April 13, 2022
How to Manage Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Side Effects
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has rapidly increased as more people become aware of its healing powers and therapeutic benefits. Our bodies are amazing natural healers, but sometimes our natural healing process can take longer.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy helps speed up your body’s healing process by enabling your cells to absorb more than ten times the amount of oxygen they typically receive through breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurized container.
When many people learn about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, they have concerns about the process and possible side effects. Luckily, most Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy side effects are minimal and only last during or shortly after treatment.
However, it’s still helpful to know what to expect during your treatment, the side effects you could experience, and how to best manage them. Below we’ll discuss how the treatment process works, the different Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy side effects, and how you can manage them to get the most out of your treatment.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Oxygen plays a vital role in your body’s healing process. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy helps you speed up the healing and recovery process by giving your cells a boost of extra oxygen. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been shown to:
- Promote better healing after surgery
- Help heal burns
- Improve sleep
- Reduce PTSD
- Minimize jet lag
- Help heal wounds from injuries
- Reduce infection
- Help with stem cell function
- Improve blood flow
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy gives your cells more oxygen, which your tissue needs to properly function and heal. By providing your cells and tissue with more oxygen than they’d typically get, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy promotes healing and fighting bacteria more quickly and efficiently.
How Does It Work?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a non-invasive treatment that requires zero needles or incisions. This treatment requires you to be inside a hyperbaric chamber where you will breathe medical-grade oxygen while within the pressurized chamber.
Inside the hyperbaric chamber during treatment, the air containing 100% oxygen is pressurized about two and a half times higher than normal air pressure. This allows your organs, tissues, and cells to receive more oxygen which accelerates the healing process.
Usually, when your body is healing, the wounds receive oxygen through your blood system. During Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, your entire body receives the treatment, allowing oxygen to go beyond your blood system, extending the healing benefits of oxygen. This combination of extra oxygen with the added pressure in the hyperbaric chamber allows a concentrated delivery of oxygen to specific areas that need healing. It stimulates the cells to speed up the process.
A Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy session usually lasts between 90 to 180 minutes, and you will be monitored throughout your entire session. This treatment is meant to be relaxing. Most facilities create a relaxing environment in the treatment room with the option to listen to music or watch a movie or TV during your session. During the treatment, you may experience pressure or discomfort in your ears, similar to what you may feel on an airplane. This treatment is usually painless, and you will be able to communicate with a staff member if you feel any discomfort.
Possible Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Side Effects
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy side effects are usually minimal and well-tolerated by patients. Most people can go through the treatment and experience no side effects during or after. However, just like any other medical treatment, there is still the possibility of experiencing side effects during and after treatment.
It’s helpful to be aware of any possible Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy side effects before your treatment, so you know what to expect and can even prepare to prevent some of them. Since this treatment involves being in a chamber with pressurized air, if there is any air inside your body that’s trapped and doesn’t have a way out can cause you to feel pressure in areas like your sinuses and ears. If you have sinusitis or ears that don’t correctly drain well, you’d want to discuss before your treatment to determine if Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is right for you or if there is anything you can do beforehand to prevent these side effects.
Other potential Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy side effects include:
- Blurry vision, eyelid twitching, and accelerated cataracts development. Various types of vision changes are potential side effects. Most vision-related side effects resolve on their own after the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy session is over. A staff member will regularly monitor your vision during your session for your safety.
- Lowered blood sugar. This side effect usually only occurs in people with diabetes receiving Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, which is usually predictable. You may be asked what your blood sugar is before your session, and if it’s too low, you may be asked to reschedule your session.
- Claustrophobia. This is one of the most common side effects experienced during Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. If you already know that you’re claustrophobic or get anxious in tight spaces, you may find the hyperbaric chamber uncomfortable. However, the chamber is see-through, so you can see around you during the treatment, unlike getting an MRI scan. You can discuss this with a staff member before treatment. If the claustrophobia becomes too much during your treatment, a staff member will be able to stop the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and take you out. Keep in mind that depressurizing can take up to 10 minutes for your safety before opening the chamber to get out.
- Fatigue. Patients sometimes feel tired after their Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy session. The treatment sometimes affects people’s energy. Some people feel re-energized afterward, while others feel exhausted.
How to Manage Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Side Effects
The majority of the possible Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Side Effects are minor and only last for the duration of the treatment or shortly after. Most side effects are also predictable, so it’s important to discuss current health issues or concerns before your session to determine if you’re at risk for any side effects. This will help you adequately prepare, manage, ease, or prevent specific side effects.
For specific possible side effects like low blood sugar, if it’s determined you may be at risk for experiencing this side effect, you may be asked to come in with a higher blood sugar level before your treatment.
If you experienced fatigue after your treatment, you might be recommended to get additional rest over the next 24 hours to get energy levels back to normal. Some patients even take a nap in the chamber during treatment.
Fortunately, most Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy side effects can be easily managed by the operating staff member by slowly changing the oxygen and pressure levels to lessen the side effects. During your session, you can also use ear clearing techniques to help comfortably adjust to the pressure if you begin to experience any pressure-related side effects.
The Bottom Line
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an overall safe treatment with very minimal side effects. Most of the side effects you may experience will only last for a short time during or after your treatment. If you’re concerned about any potential side effects, speak to your consulting staff member. They can go over any current medical concerns or issues you may have and the potential side effects you might be at risk for. This is an important part of preventing and managing any possible side effects with ease for your Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment.
At CORR, we’ll work closely with you before and during your Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments to predict any possible side effects and help you manage them so you can focus on getting the full benefits of your treatment. If you’re interested in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy or want to talk about any potential side effect concerns, reach out to us today, and one of our staff members will be in touch with you shortly.