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.