What Conditions does HBOT treat?
The only ‘treatable’ conditions that have been approved by the FDA are the 14 that are listed below:
Decompression Sickness, Gas embolism, CO and Cyanide poisoning, Gas Gangrene, Selected aerobic and anaerobic soft tissue infections, Osteomyelitis, Intracranial abscess, Management of Fungal disease, Radiation injury to tissue, Exceptional blood loss/anemia, Crush injury/compartment syndrome, Ischemia reperfusion injuries, Skin grafts and flaps, Healing in selected problem wounds, Treatment of thermal burns
If HBOT is used for any other medical condition, then it is considered to be an ‘off-label’ treatment and must be prescribed by a doctor.
What about m-HBOT?
The only ‘treatable’ condition that has been approved by the FDA is for Altitude Sickness (or Acute Mountain Sickness). All other medical uses must also be prescribed by a doctor, and similarly are categorized as off-label conditions.
Does Insurance cover treatments?
Generally, there is no coverage if you are using HBOT for an off-label condition. However, if you do have one of these 14 conditions, then there is a good chance of insurance reimbursement.
Is it legal to use HBOT for off-label conditions?
Yes. It is often very common for prescription drugs to be prescribed for uses other than what the FDA has approved. This is the definition of off-label.
What is the list of off-label conditions that HBOT is used for?
Unfortunately, there is no such list. It is up the the individual doctor or HBOT provider to recommend this procedure, and they do this based on their knowledge, training, and expertise in integration within their own disciplines. If you are using HBOT for an off-label condition, then we encourage you to make sure that you have been properly informed about using HBOT for your condition.
Do I need to do 40 sessions?
No. Keep in mind that the ’40 hour protocol’ is the gold standard for many of the physiological benefits that have been observed with HBOT. However, the actual physiological benefits (for HBOT) can be seen in just a few sessions!
Most physiological benefits will begin within the first few sessions of HBOT. It has been well documented that the anti-oxidant and protective role of HBOT is immediate and demonstrated within 24 hours of just one hyperbaric session. Further, the anti-inflammatory response is also very quick and a strong physiological response has been shown within 4 days of hyperbaric therapy. Many studies have reported HBOT to produce a strong pain relieving effect after just 5 to 10 sessions. HBOT’s effects on promoting new blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) can take place in just 10 to 20 sessions. From our data, here is a general summary:
1-5 sessions: Improve cellular energy and during this time tissue functioning may be optimized. Those with residual carbon monoxide (ie smokers) or with mild anemia can show immediate benefits with cellular energy. Inflammatory markers can go down considerably and mark the beginning of a natural repair process.
5-10 sessions: Typically used for acute injuries with soft tissue damage, particularly if there is pain involved.
10-20 sessions: More serious acute injuries or chronic injuries.
20-40 sessions: Commonly used for major tissue damages and when new tissue is required (through HBOT’s regenerative stem cell properties).
Do I need 60 minutes per session
No. Most research studies typically use 60 – 90 minute sessions and the majority have reported positive benefits. However, shorter duration sessions (i.e. 20 to 30 min) are getting great feedback from clients undergoing HBOT. Moreover, the lower pressures seem to fare better with this shorter duration protocol.
Can I use HBOT for general health and wellness?
Yes, and that is why we like to focus on ‘physiological benefits’ opposed to medical conditions. In saying that, it is highly recommended that you speak to your HBOT provider about having a general screening for being inside of a hyperbaric chamber (i.e., being “fit for Hyperbarics”). As low as the risks are, this will help to minimize any potential problems that you may have.
If I am a healthy individual, what kind of benefits can I get?
Once again, we encourage you to take a closer look at the physiological benefits and see if there is any pertinent area of interest for yourself.
I heard that HBOT can help with ED. Why is it not on the reported benefits?
Unfortunately, we cannot list all the reported benefits that have been noted though HBOT — the list would be too long! Instead, we need to focus on the ‘physiological benefits.’ These are the well-known benefits (ie, increase energy and tissue function, new blood vessel formation, anti-inflammatory effects, etc) that can be achieved by the body, through hyperbaric delivery. By understanding that proper erectile function is dependent on good blood flow and oxygen levels, it would make sense that some people would be reporting benefits from HBOT for ED or any other condition that requires good blood flow.
Can I use a hyperbaric chamber if I’m pregnant?
It is not generally advised to undergo hyperbaric therapy if you are pregnant. Some people feel that there is a benefit, quoting research done in Russia. However, until further safety studies are performed, it is not advisable to be inside a hyperbaric chamber during pregnancy.
Can I go inside a hyperbaric chamber if I have COPD?
It is always good to make sure you get approval from your doctor. There is, however, some confusion in this area that we can help clear up. Generally speaking, COPD can be a concern at very high pressures, particularly in some cases of severe emphysema. However, when you look deeper into COPD, you will find chronic inflammation plays a key role in the progression of the disease. For this reason, repetitive hyperbaric oxygen therapy at lower pressures has become increasingly deployed and the outcomes have been very favorable, showing clinical improvements. Thus, lower pressures can provide both good safety and outcome benefits.
I heard that I can get the same effects by going to an oxygen bar. Is this true?
No. It is the pressure
that plays the most critical role in the effective dosage of HBOT. This is due to extra oxygen being dissolved in the blood plasma when under pressure, which can travel to deeper areas in the body where blood flow and oxygen levels were limited. An oxygen bar only delivers higher oxygen concentrations and does not pressurize the oxygen. Therefore, it cannot deliver the same effects as you can experience through hyperbaric oxygen therapy — only HBOT will be able to force significantly more oxygen into the blood plasma. IT’S THE LAW — IT’S CALLED HENRY’S LAW
My doctor said ozone therapy is just as good. Is this true?
Though there are similarities between the two practices, there are also fundamental differences. No one procedure should replace the other, and the individual appropriateness should be thoroughly investigated before deciding. Here is a recent article that compared the two therapies for infective endocarditis. <hbot-and-ozone
Is mild HBOT strong enough?
M-HBOT is only approved for altitude sickness. All other reasons for using m-HBOT are considered off-label. However, m-HBOT provides the body with a significantly high amount of extra oxygen, which may be beneficial for a variety of clients. The extra oxygen travels in the body’s plasma (the liquid portion of our bloodstream) and thus can get to areas that the majority of other oxygen molecules cannot. In saying that, there are certain times that higher doses are required (i.e., a life-threatening hospital condition) and in that case, m-HBOT would not be appropriate. This does not mean that it does not work! A similar example would be for taking a course of oral antibiotics. They will work just fine (assuming the right one is chosen and there is no resistance) in oral form. However, sometimes, we need a stronger dose and will go to the hospital for IV antibiotics. Think of m-HBOT as an oral oxygen supplement and higher pressure HBOT as administering oxygen intravenously.
My doctor said that the chamber could explode and there is high risk of fire. Is this true?
Since the onset of hyperbaric oxygen chambers, this procedure has demonstrated remarkable safety records. In terms of fires and explosions, these are very rare and principally involve 100% oxygen-pressurized chambers and poor operational standards. We encourage all clients looking into hyperbaric therapy to question the the safety of the chambers used, and more specifically, to ask for the safety and operational standards used by the center or provider, to help reduce the risks of fires and other potential dangers. <study>
I heard that you are not supposed to take electronics inside the chamber?
Electronics are not allowed to be inside a hyperbaric chamber that is pressurized with pure oxygen or that uses high-pressure oxygen cylinders or dewars. Mild hyperbaric chambers utilizing oxygen concentrators are considered to be safe for electronics and have been deployed in this manner for the last 20 years without any incidents. It is up to each clinic and their appointed safety director to let you know if it is safe to take electronics inside the chamber.
Can children use a chamber? If so, how young can they be?
Yes, children can safely undergo hyperbaric therapy. There is no age restriction, but we do recommend that an experienced chamber operator provide the services for those that are very young or very old.
Can I get injured from HBOT?
Anything is possible, and if you have weak lungs or some type of lung condition, then you would be at a higher risk. It is still extremely low risk, and is pressure and time related. Reducing both would reduce the risk. Most centers have trained staff to further reduce any dangers. If you are concerned about your lungs, then you should speak with your hyperbaric center and see what precautions they use to help ensure the highest level of safety for you.
Will using the Chamber cause Seizures?
Oxygen-induced seizures are very rare (1/10,000) and are typically seen at higher pressures. It should be noted that this is not epilepsy and will not cause further seizure activity, but instead is a one-time single episode that is treated by discontinuing the oxygen session. Most of these seizures have been shown to be related to low blood sugars or an elevation in body temperature. Experienced chamber operators should be able to minimize the potential risks of seizure. In saying that, many individuals with epilepsy, particularly children, have successfully used hyperbaric oxygen therapy to reduce seizure activity. This has been demonstrated both clinically and also in research studies. One study showed an 82% effectiveness; moreover, 68% significantly effective in reducing seizures with hyperbaric oxygenation therapy. <epilepsy study
I heard 1.3 ATA can cause bacteria/mold to form. Is this true?
No, there is no valid support for this claim. There are many reports stating this myth; however, they all originate from one statement in the textbook Hyperbaric Medicine, page 143. Not only is there no reference for this statement, but there is no clinical data or research supporting this claim. Moreover, the claim does not even have any logistical basis, as they say that “1.5 ATA is antibacterial while 1.3 ATA will cause bacteria to grow.” There is no magic number (or amount of oxygen) that turns the body from being susceptible to bacteria growth into strongly killing bacteria. It should be noted that this statement was written at a time when there was a lot of animosity towards m-HBOT, and it was actually coming from within the hyperbaric community. As time went on, much of this animosity has now turned to respect for m-HBOT as it has survived 20 years of scrutiny and id gaining more scientific support as the years go by.
I heard that people sleep inside the chamber. Is that safe?
It is not recommended to sleep inside of a hyperbaric chamber, even if it is a low pressure chamber. Though there are people who have reported sleeping inside the chamber and promoting its benefits, we have many safety concerns for this type of practice and it is only a matter of time before a serious incident could occur. To ensure the highest level of safety, HBOT is generally not recommended for more than 60 to 90 minutes per session.
Can I overdose?
Yes, just like any medication or procedure. This is known as “oxygen toxicity,” which can effect the central nervous system and/or the lungs. The two main variables leading to oxygen toxicity are ‘pressure’ and ‘time.’ If the pressure is kept below 2.0 ATA and the time is kept to 60 min, then the risk of oxygen toxicity is extremely low. A skilled hyperbaric therapist should be able to limit this risk if dosages are used above 2.0 ATA and for longer than 60 minutes.
How long before I will see any benefits?
Every person is different and some will see immediate benefits and others may not notice them at all until completion of their series of hyperbaric sessions. In terms of the ’40 hour protocol’, it is not uncommon for the majority of the benefits to be reported up to 4 weeks following its completion!