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Patient Information

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy FAQs

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Oxygen is life-sustaining component of air, necessary for normal bodily processes. When administered under conditions of high pressure, oxygen can achieve high levels in body tissues. This can have beneficial effects in the treatment of specific medical problems. For most conditions treated by hyperbaric oxygen, the primary effect is to improve circulation to areas with poor blood flow.

What conditions can be treated effectively with hyperbaric oxygen?

The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) provides a list of conditions for which there is adequate evidence of effectiveness. The Hyperbaric Center treats only those conditions approved for treatment by the UHMS. The Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) and most commercial medical insurance companies have accepted the UHMS listing with only minor exceptions.

How is hyperbaric oxygen administered?

Hyperbaric oxygen is administered to a patient in a chamber that can be pressurized to 2-3 times normal atmospheric pressure. Once pressurized, the patient breathes 100% oxygen to achieve the therapeutic effects.

How long do treatments last? How many treatments might I need?

Depending upon the medical condition being treated, treatments last about two hours. In general, treatments are provided once daily, Monday through Friday. The number of treatments varies with the condition being treated, but usually requires 20-40 treatment sessions to provide optimal efficacy.

Are there side-effects or risks of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Although a very safe procedure, side effects can occur. Because of the pressurization, ear pain might occur if you cannot equalize the pressure in the middle ear with the chamber pressure. We will instruct you in methods to avoid this discomfort. About one in five patients can experience a temporary change in vision which may limit driving, particularly at night, but which generally resolves within six weeks of completion of therapy. Oxygen breathed at high concentrations for long periods can cause a seizure in about one patient out of five thousand. These seizures resolve without treatment and do not lead to permanent damage. Because use of pure oxygen increases the speed with which fire could spread, you will be provided specific instruction in items which are not allowed into the hyperbaric facility, and will be provided special clothing to wear during your treatments.