Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) has been used for decades to save the lives of scuba divers suffering from decompression sickness. It’s also FDA-approved as a safe and effective therapy that supports your body’s natural healing response to tissue infection, non-healing wounds, and other conditions that compromise your cellular health.
In this blog, Dr. Manjulatha Badam at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics in San Antonio, Texas, explains the enhanced healing actions of HBOT and its indications for use.
Understanding the effects of HBOT
Your body relies on oxygen collected by your lungs and transported through your bloodstream to fuel the normal cellular processes you require for good health. Infection, inflammation, and other conditions that cause tissue damage increase your body’s need for oxygen.
When performed under a physician’s supervision, hyperbaric oxygen therapy safely increases the level of oxygen available to the mitochondria. These tiny structures (organelles) within your cells use oxygen to transform the nutrients in your diet into the energy your cells require to function normally.
HBOT also significantly increases stem cell production. Stem cells promote healing by regenerating lost tissue and signaling the release of other growth factors that are integral to tissue repair and new tissue growth.
When part of an advanced wound care strategy, higher levels of oxygen available through HBOT can effectively:
- Decrease inflammation and swelling
- Increase your body’s natural immune response to infection
- Speed healing
- Promote new blood vessel growth
- Improve circulation and help remove toxins and metabolic waste from tissue
You may require 10-40 sessions to experience the full effects of HBOT, but the therapy is painless and performed in our office for your convenience.
International indications for HBOT
When prescribed as one component of a comprehensive strategy, HBOT is considered safe and highly effective for treating:
- Severe anemia
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Significant tissue damage related to crush injuries
- Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
- Gangrene and other infection of skin or bone that causes tissue death
- Chronic non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers or venous stasis ulcers
- Radiation injury
- Skin graft or skin flap at risk of tissue death
- Treatment-resistant osteomyelitis
- Tissue damage related to frostbite
- Postsurgical wound complications
Physicians around the world have also found HBOT highly effective in supporting traditional leprosy therapies. Leprosy is a debilitating, slow-growing bacterial infection that can cause severe damage to the skin, peripheral nerves, and mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and eyes.
While not as prevalent in the United States as in other regions or the world, leprosy can affect infants, children, and adults.
Off-label uses for HBOT
In medicine, “off-label use” includes therapies and medications that have proven safe and effective in treating conditions they were not initially developed to treat. Certain antidepressants, for instance, are often prescribed to successfully treat migraines and other chronic pain disorders.
Conditions that may benefit from off-label HBOT include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Lyme disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
HBOT is also proving useful in combating some of the effects of aging, as it slows cell death and promotes cellular regeneration.
For more information about HBOT and the health benefits it provides, or an evaluation regarding any of the services we offer, schedule an appointment at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics today.