Oxygen is a critical substance for our survival. We might go without food or water for days but we cannot stop breathing oxygen for more than a few minutes. Cutting off the supply to the brain is fatal. In fact, sometimes our need for it gets even higher such as when we try to perform demanding physical activities. We tend to breathe harder as our body craves for more oxygen to boost our energy production. The same thing happens when we fall ill or when we get injured as oxygen-rich blood is essential in healing. In these cases, doctors might recommend supplementation in the form of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
How It Works
The air we breathe is only partly oxygen. For better intake, we could breathe pure oxygen by going inside a pressurized room or breathing in through a tube. This immediately increase the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. If using a hyperbaric chamber, you will feel the air pressure high to around thrice the normal air pressure that we experience at ground level. The pressure helps push more oxygen into the lungs to boost the therapeutic effects. The blood will carry this from the lungs to different parts of the body.
Conditions That May Benefit from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
1. Decompression Sickness
Scuba divers are prone to decompression sickness due to problematic ascents. It happens when the pressure decreases at a rapid rate as the diver gets up for air faster than the recommended pace. This may be due to panic because their oxygen tank is falling too low and the way up is pretty far. It can also happen to those who are traveling by air without sufficient pressure and mountaineers who have ascended to high altitudes.
2. Lingering Wounds
Some individuals have trouble healing when they get wounded. The most common example is foot ulcer which degenerates rapidly among the diabetic. This often leads to weeks of hospital stay. Some will require months for the wound to heal completely. There are cases where it simply gets progressively worse such that amputation might be necessary. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help hasten healing so that it does not reach a desperate situation.
3. Arterial Gas Embolism
This is a condition characterized by air bubbles blocking the flow of blood around the vessels. This could happen due to medical procedures while treating injuries. Those affected may suffer from sudden loss of consciousness and other central nervous system issues. Providing more oxygen can help fix the problem fast to save the patient. Otherwise, they might succumb to a stroke or a heart attack.
4. Severe Anemia
Anemia can be triggered by a number of things including abnormal red cell production, disease, and internal bleeding. When the body is running low on red blood cells, one of the things that can be done is to supercharge the remaining RBC by breathing in large amounts of pure oxygen. This would supply the vital organs with the much needed gas including the heart and the brain. This reverses organ dysfunction in cases of severe anemia.