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Learning About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

What is it?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment that helps healing. It's used to increase the oxygen level in your blood. This can prevent tissue death, promote healing, and help fight infection. You sit or lie down in an enclosed chamber. The pressure inside the chamber is raised. Then 100% oxygen is given.

Why is HBOT done?

HBOT can prevent tissue death and help with healing. It's sometimes used to treat conditions such as:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Decompression sickness from scuba diving. This is a condition that scuba divers can get when they come up to the surface of the water too quickly.

It may also be used for:

  • Some types of infection.
  • Losing a large amount of blood.
  • Injuries that cut off the oxygen supply to muscles and other soft tissue.
  • Injuries from breathing in heat, smoke, or harmful chemicals.
  • Injury from radiation treatment.

  • Alberta Health Services HBOT chambers only treat certain conditions that have enough research to support their use.

How long does it take?

Each treatment session lasts about 45 minutes to several hours. After treatment, the pressure in the tube or chamber is lowered slowly while you rest inside.

How is it done?

In HBOT, the air pressure is raised to about three times the normal air pressure. Then you are given 100% oxygen. The higher air pressure allows your lungs to take in more oxygen than they can under normal air pressure.

HBOT can be done in 2 ways:

  • Lying down on a stretcher that slides into a clear acrylic tube. The pressure is raised in the tube, and the tube fills with oxygen.
  • Sitting in a large chamber under high pressure that holds 2 or more people and breathing in oxygen with a mask or hood.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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