Hyperbaric oxygen therapy sounds complicated, but it’s actually a fairly simple treatment. You will lie inside of a treatment chamber, where you will be able to listen to music or watch TV, for about two hours. You’ll be breathing 100% oxygen, at a pressure higher than sea level.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the oxygen level in the blood and tissues through the delivery of pressurized oxygen in high concentrations. Boosting oxygen levels brings about positive changes that enhance wound repair and healing. When used in conjunction with standard wound care, hyperbaric oxygen has shown improved results in the healing of difficult wounds compared to routine wound care alone.
Conditions that May Benefit from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
At Norwalk Hospital, only those conditions that are approved by Medicare and the UHMS are treated with hyperbaric oxygen. These include:
- Air or gas embolism
- Arterial insufficiencies
- Bone infections
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Clostridial myositis and myonecrosis (gas gangrene)
- Crush injury, compartment syndrome, and other acute ischemias
- Decompression sickness (also known as “the bends”)
- Diabetic wounds
- Enhancement of healing in problem wounds
- Exceptional blood loss (anemia)
- Intracranial abscess
- Necrotizing soft-tissue infections
- Refractory osteomyelitis
- Delayed radiation injury (soft-tissue and bony necrosis)
- Skin grafts and flaps
- Thermal burns
What to Expect When You Have Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments provide 100% oxygen under pressure to the person in the chamber. After first receiving medical clearance, you’ll typically come to the wound center for daily treatment sessions, typically for four to six weeks. Inside the healingchamber, you can nap, watch TV, sit up or shift around on the bed if needed. An attendant is present at all times to ensure your safety and comfort.
The pressurized environment may cause a sensation of fullness in your ears – similar to when flying in an airplane. We will show you several ways to avoid ear discomfort. And if you’re prone to claustrophobia, you may be given medication to help you relax, if needed.
What to Wear
We provide you with 100 percent cotton surgical scrubs to wear during the treatment.
Tell Us about the Medications You Take
Hyperbaric oxygen may alter the effects of certain drugs so we need to know which prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking. To your first appointment, please bring along any drugs you plan to take while undergoing therapy.
It’s Best to Eat Before Treatment
Unless otherwise instructed, you should eat something before coming in for treatments. If you have diabetes, you should maintain your diet and take your insulin as usual. If you have any questions, please ask our staff.
Advice about SmokingFor the best results, smokers are urged to stop smoking during the weeks of hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Nicotine reduces blood delivery to the wound area.