hyperbaric oxygen therapy

7 Tips For Your First Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treatment

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is an exciting treatment that, while not new in the medical field, is increasing in popularity for its healing power and therapeutic benefits. If you’re about to have your first session, you may wonder what to expect and how to prepare for the best experience possible. 

Your technician will be with you every step of the way throughout your session, and the entire treatment is easy and painless. However, before starting your first HBOT session, there are a few preparations you’ll want to make and tips to know that will help you get the most out of your session. Below, we’ll go over what a hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment is, what to expect, and seven helpful tips for your first session.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Oxygen plays a vital role in your body’s healing process, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy harnesses the power of oxygen into a revolutionary treatment to provide healing and therapeutic effects and benefits. It’s considered a medical therapy and is often covered by insurance, depending on its use. However, you don’t just have to have a specific medical condition to experience the therapeutic benefits of this treatment. 

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment can be used for:

  • Treating decompression sickness
  • Promoting better healing after surgery
  • Helping heal burn wounds
  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing PTSD
  • Minimizing jet lag
  • Healing wounds from injuries 
  • Reducing infection
  • Improving stem cell function
  • Improving blood flow

During a HBOT treatment session, you breathe in pure oxygen in a pressurized container, allowing your cells to absorb more than ten times as much oxygen as they typically receive. HBOT can support healing and fight bacteria since your tissues need oxygen to heal, and bacteria can’t survive under high oxygen levels. 

How It Works

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves a patient breathing almost 100% medical-grade oxygen inside a pressurized hyperbaric chamber. This treatment can be performed in a mono-chamber for one patient or a multi-chamber for two or more patients. This is an easy, non-invasive, painless treatment that only requires you to be inside the chamber breathing the oxygen to receive the benefits. 

Inside the hyperbaric chamber, the medical-grade oxygen air is pressurized almost two and a half times more than normal air pressure. This allows the organs, tissues, and cells to receive more oxygen, accelerating the healing and therapeutic process. Essentially, HBOT floods the body’s tissues with oxygen while reducing the swelling of any damaged blood vessels. The patient’s blood can then carry oxygen throughout the body, which can be used to treat a variety of conditions. 

During a hyperbaric oxygen therapy session, the entire body receives the treatment that allows the oxygen to go beyond the bloodstream and provides healing benefits to the entire body. It also helps send the healing benefits of the oxygen to specific areas that you are trying to treat because of the combination of the higher levels of oxygen and the pressure in the chamber. The stimulated cells from the higher oxygen levels they’re receiving will also speed up the healing process, making this treatment great for surgery, wound, or injury recovery. 

The treatment itself usually lasts between 90 to 180 minutes, and the technician monitors you the entire time. Most patients find this treatment relaxing, and many even fall asleep during the treatment. Some facilities may even provide music to listen to or movies to watch to make the treatment even more relaxing. 

You may experience minor discomfort from the pressure during the treatment. Most patients describe it as pressure or popping in their ears, similar to what you may feel on an airplane. However, the treatment is normally painless. You’ll be able to communicate with the technician if you feel any discomfort, so they can help make the process as comfortable as possible.

What You Need to Know For Your First Treatment

There are a few things that are helpful to know and things you can do before your first HBOT treatment to prepare and have the best experience possible. These tips and preparations can also greatly impact the effectiveness of your treatment. 

  1. Avoid Certain Foods and Drinks

It’s recommended to avoid caffeine on the day of your treatment because caffeine constricts the blood vessels and can make the treatment less effective. You should also avoid alcohol and carbonated drinks before your session as well. You may eat a light and nutritious meal an hour or two before your treatment. Also, it is recommended to stay hydrated throughout the day before and after your treatment. 

  1. Double Check Your Medications

Oxygen may change the effects of certain medications, and certain medications can’t be taken while going through HBOT treatments. It’s important to speak with your practitioner before your treatment about any medications you’re using to check that they won’t conflict with your treatment. And if any do conflict with HBOT, you’ll need to temporarily stop taking them for your treatment. 

  1. Quit Smoking

If possible, quitting smoking during your HBOT treatment period is imperative. Smoking interferes with the body’s ability to transport oxygen and can counter the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Many treatments work better when the patient doesn’t smoke or is able to quit smoking before treatment. Even if you stop a week before, that will be beneficial to your experience.

  1. Wear the Right Clothing

You should wear comfortable, loose clothing for your treatment since you can be in the chamber for up to 2 hours. Choose clothes you can relax in and something you don’t mind sitting in for longer periods. 

  1. Prep Your Ears

The most common side effect people experience during treatment is ear pressure. It usually does not cause pain but can be uncomfortable. You can prepare your ears ahead of time to help reduce any possible ear pressure. Make sure that your ears are clear of wax, and if you’ve had any recent illness, allergies, infections, or surgeries related to an ear issue, tell your HBOT practitioner before your treatment. You can also practice clearing your ears before treatment using strategies such as yawning, swallowing, pinching your nose and gently blowing. You can use these techniques to equalize your ears and relieve any pressure during your treatment. 

  1. Schedule Your Day Accordingly

Since a HBOT treatment can take up to two hours, it could significantly change your normal daily schedule. It’s important to schedule your day accordingly on the day of the treatment and ensure you don’t have anything else important to get to afterward. When planning your day, it’s also important to remember that, although rare, some mild lightheadedness and fatigue can be experienced after your treatment. So you may want to clear your schedule for the rest of the day to accommodate any potential side effects. You most likely will not want to exert too much energy for the rest of the day after your treatment. 

  1. Come to Your Treatment Clean and Natural

It’s important to come to your treatment as clean and as natural as possible. If you’re able to take a shower before coming to your appointment, do so, and you should also avoid using the following before your treatment:

  • Perfume
  • Lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup
  • Hair styling products
  • Body piercings 
  • Nail polish or acrylics nails applied less than 24 hours before your appointment

The Bottom Line

Overall, HBOT is a very safe treatment with minimal discomfort and a wide range of healing benefits. The most important thing during your hyperbaric oxygen therapy session is that you’re comfortable. Preparing ahead of time and following these tips can ensure you’re as comfortable and that your treatment is as effective as possible. 

If you’re interested in having a hyperbaric oxygen therapy session, you can have a consultation at a facility that provides the treatment. They will give you additional preparation tips and answer any questions you have before your session. 
Ready to get started? At CORR, we work closely with you before and during your hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments to provide you with the most comfortable and effective experience. If you’re interested in hyperbaric oxygen therapy, reach out today to set up a consultation.