Beginning a new treatment can come with a lot of anxiety. Patients may stress and worry about how they will feel before, during, and after the treatment — are there physical side effects? Will they be able to get back to a regular routine quickly? Hyperbaric chamber therapy is one such treatment that is highly beneficial but can be intimidating. Here are some things to know about hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT):

How Do I Prepare for Treatment? 

The patient should be aware of the “before” of hyperbaric therapy. Here are some ways to prepare for a medical-grade hyperbaric chamber treatment: 

Illness From Cold or the Flu

If a patient is feeling cold or flu-like symptoms, HBOT should be avoided until they are healthy again. The symptoms caused by the cold or flu can cause the hyperbaric oxygen to not be as successful. The pressurization involved in already clogged sinuses can be uncomfortable.

Smoking Issues

If the patient is a smoker, they should stop smoking for the length of their treatment. Smoking or vaping can cause the small blood vessels to be constricted as well as raise the heart rate. This may cause the benefits of treatment to decrease. 

Some Medications To Avoid

Certain medications should be avoided while going through hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Any medication patches, petroleum-based ointments, nitroglycerin-based ointments, and more may not be used while in HBOT. To find a full list of medications, speak with your healthcare provider. 

Avoid Certain Drinks

Before entering a hyperbaric chamber treatment, avoid drinking alcohol, carbonated beverages, and caffeine. These drinks can impede the way oxygen is absorbed. If you are a daily alcohol drinker, drinking during the treatment may cause negative side effects. Caffeine should be avoided as well because it can constrict the blood vessels and decrease the amount of oxygen delivered throughout the body. 

What To Wear and What Not To Wear

Medical-grade oxygen chambers require that 100% cotton clothing be worn. This is because cotton does not carry static synthetic fibers, which can be a safety risk. Speak with the HBOT facility to see if they provide these garments. Other items that are not allowed in these chambers include make-up, artificial wigs, cell phones, laptops, etc. These products should be avoided while in these chambers. 

What Does Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy Feel Like? 

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is non-invasive. A patient enters a hyperbaric oxygen chamber which, once pressurized, allows the patient’s lungs to absorb 100% pure oxygen.

The chamber’s air pressure rises two to three times more than normal pressure, which may create a full feeling within the patient’s ears. This feeling is temporary and will stop as soon as the treatment ends.

The HBOT tech should review a list of possible side effects with the patient before therapy begins, including some pressure in the sinuses or ears, tiredness, or slight fluid build-up. 

Post Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

After a patient receives hyperbaric oxygen therapy they may feel a bit lightheaded. This lightheadedness will ease quickly. Post-treatment, there is no downtime and patients are able to go about their daily activities. Patients may feel tired or hungry post-treatment. There are no activities that are limited after treatment. If a patient is feeling side effects after treatment they should speak with their physician. Hyperbaric oxygen is a non-invasive treatment that is safe for patients of all ages. 

What You Should Know About Treatment

Treatment lengths will vary for each individual’s situation. Most conditions require more than one treatment. Chronic conditions may require a minimum of 30 sessions. Patients may be in the chamber from 90 minutes to two hours. This will all depend on what condition you are being treated for, as well as other external factors. 

If you are considering hyperbaric oxygen therapy, you will need a doctor’s prescription to make an appointment. HBOT is considered a drug by the FDA, meaning a prescription is required. Some facilities may have physicians at their business that can write a prescription for you.

Try Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy

During treatment, you may feel a bit light-headed. This side effect does not last long, and you can reap the benefits of HBOT after. If you are considering hyperbaric chamber therapy, find a facility near you with medical-grade chambers. 

By Manali