Treatment for Wounds: Breathe in Healing | Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

If you have diabetes, chances are you’re struggling with several factors affecting the health of your lower extremities.  You could have vascular disease, peripheral neuropathy, or swelling.  In addition, you could be dealing with poor nutrition.

All of these complications can damage the healthy tissues in your legs and feet, potentially leading to chronic wounds that don’t heal and increase your risk of amputation.  Getting more oxygen to those tissues can be an effective weapon in battling those wounds.  Among other therapies your doctor might suggest, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) that increases your blood oxygen level can be a useful treatment option that can promote natural-healing.

What is HBOT?
HBOT is an outpatient therapy during which you breathe 100-percent oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber. Air pressure is up to three times higher than normal, increasing the amount of oxygen transported to the blood stream.

How does HBOT work?
The increased pressure forces oxygen to dissolve into your blood — up to 10-13 fold increase. With more oxygen in your blood, your body can fight off infection better, stimulate the production of stem cells for greater healing, and can prompt the growth of new blood vessels to wounded tissues.

During the treatment, you might feel a fullness in your ears similar to being in a plane or in a high elevator. Yawn to alleviate the pressure.

How long does hyperbaric oxygen therapy last?
Most sessions last between 90-120 minutes. During the first 5-15 minutes, your hyperbaric technician will change the atmospheric pressure in the chamber to feel like you’re between 33 and 45 feet under water. You’ll stay at that pressure for roughly 60-90 minutes, and your doctor will return the pressure to normal during the session’s final 5-15 minutes.

How many HBOT treatments will you need?
The number of sessions depends on the condition you’re treating. For non-healing wounds, you’ll likely need somewhere between 20-40 sessions.

How will you feel after HBOT treatment?
Post-treatment, you might feel tired and hungry; however, it’s safe for you to return to your normal activities.

What are the risks of HBOT?
Prior to your hyperbaric oxygen therapy, your physician will discuss with you potential risks and side effects. Most patients experience no side effects from HBO therapy. However, some patients may feel ear discomfort or sinus pressure.

What are the benefits of HBOT?
HBOT increases the amount of oxygen delivered to your tissues that don’t get enough, and it can reduce swelling. This can be helpful if you have poor circulation due to diabetes. Additionally, higher oxygen levels help your body produce more white blood cells to kill bacteria, and it can maximize the effect of some antibiotics.

To learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy or about the Amputation Prevention Center of America, please contact us today.



Side-Stepping Amputation: It’s All In Your Feet | Diabetes

Amputation Prevention with Diabetes

Diabetes Amputation Prevention

Amputation is a serious risk when you have diabetes. In fact, your risk is 28 times higher than someone without the condition.

Most amputations are lower limb — toes, feet, below the knee, and above the knee. And, the risk is greatest for men, older adults, and non-Hispanic black males.

Fortunately, you can limit your risk. Control your blood sugar, exercise daily, and take your medications correctly. But, the most important thing you can do is take care of your feet.

Inspect your feet: Check your feet daily for sores, redness, blisters, calluses, ingrown toenails, numbness, open sores, or any temperature changes or hair loss. If you can’t see the bottom of your feet easily, use a mirror.

Wash your feet: Use a mild soap and warm (not hot) water. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes, and apply a non-alcoholic lotion to your feet. It keeps your feet soft and prevents cracks that let bacteria into your skin. Don’t put lotion between your toes as it can cause blisters, and don’t soak your feet because it can dry out your skin.

Cut your toenails: Cut your toenails straight across with straight clippers, and file down sharp edges. Apply foot powder, such as talcum or corn starch, to your feet, if desired.

Wear socks: Choose soft, seamless, padded socks to avoid sores and blisters. Make sure they don’t pinch or rub. They should be loose enough around the top so they don’t cut off circulation. Also, choose socks that pull sweat away from your skin, such as cotton or special acrylic. Avoid nylon.

Pay attention to shoes: Change shoes at least once daily to side-step pressure points. Check your shoes regularly for pebbles or sharp objects, and make sure they have enough cushioning for the heel, arch, and ball of your foot. Select shoes with enough room for your toes, and if your feet are two different sizes, buy the larger shoes. Don’t wear sandals or flip flops, and don’t go barefoot — even at home.

Leave calluses alone: Don’t attempt to remove calluses or foot lesions by yourself. Avoid using nail files, nail clippers, or scissors, and don’t apply chemical wart removers. Instead, see a podiatrist for expert care.

Quit smoking: Smoking constricts your blood vessels and limits oxygen to your extremities. Poor circulation is a large contributing factor to amputation risk.

These steps go a long way toward helping you avoid amputation, but know when to seek medical care. Contact your doctor if you develop these signs of trouble:

  • Ingrown toenails
  • Blisters
  • Plantar warts on the soles of your feet (flesh colored bumps with dark specks)
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Discolored skin
  • Warmth in one area
  • Pain
  • Foul odor
  • Ulcer lasting longer than 2 weeks
  • Ulcer bigger than ¾ inch
  • Ulcer so deep it exposes bone
  • Sores than don’t heal quickly

Following these steps and seeking care when needed can improve your long-term mobility, increase your quality of life, and, potentially, increase your life expectancy.

Contact us today to learn more about Amputation Prevention Centers of America.