Oxygen is the life force of the human body. Every cell in the body requires oxygen to survive, thrive and grow. A high amount of oxygen in the blood enables the proper functioning of the body cells; and its quick healing and speedy recovery from any disease.
Typically, a human being inhales around 21% of the oxygen on average. It is because the atmospheric air contains around 21% oxygen. For patients who are deprived of sufficient oxygen, or those who need oxygen in more quantity, doctors often suggest Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
HBOT is a specialized type of treatment therapy. It helps the patients inhale up to around three times more oxygen. It is accomplished through a specialized chamber known as a hyperbaric chamber. These chambers facilitate the patients to inhale 100% pure oxygen.
HBOT therapies are effective in treating various illnesses and disorders ranging from recovery of non-healing wounds and ulcers; and relief from autism symptoms to mild cognitive impairment, heart stroke, etc.
A patient entering a hyperbaric chamber needs to take certain precautions before, during, and after the session. This article lists six simple steps to prepare for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. These steps are easy to follow and implement. Adhering to them would highly benefit the patients undergoing HBOT therapy.
Have a light and nutritious meal before the treatment session, preferable an hour or two earlier. Have lots of water and keep your body hydrated. It will help in the detoxification of the body too.
Before the treatment session, it is best to avoid any alcoholic beverage.
Since caffeine and nicotine can constrict the blood vessels, it reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood cells. To ensure that the benefits derived from the therapy do not get nullified, avoid caffeine and caffeinated drinks. Further, a patient should also not smoke or consume tobacco.
Certain medications and treatments do not allow such treatments as hyperbaric oxygen therapy to proceed simultaneously. These include, and are not limited to, treatments by certain types of chemotherapy, using ointments containing oxygen-reactive elements to heal localized wounds and injuries, etc.
Check with your doctor well in advance whether you are taking medicines that would not allow you to undergo treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.
Since the blood cells receive a lot of oxygen inside a hyperbaric chamber, it can lower the glucose levels in the blood vessels. If you have diabetes, ensure that you have appropriate glucose replacements with you should you require them during the treatment.
Any chronic illness or temporary sickness due to a common cold, flu, or suffering from frequent urination, or loose motion may hamper the treatment goals. The doctor and the medical staff at the treatment center should be informed immediately if such a situation arises.
Further, a patient suffering from high blood pressure should consult the doctor before entering the chamber. In any case, ensure that you are at ease and without any pressure for the entire time you spend inside the hyperbaric chamber. Until then, you should ideally put off your therapy session as a precautionary measure.
When your body experiences any form of stress, such as fear, restlessness, or tension, it naturally reacts with anxiety.
Though HBOT treatments have shown positive results on patients suffering from mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, certain patients may be averse to experiencing new things unfamiliar to them. Such patients may suffer from mild to strong anxiety attacks before, during, or after they visit hyperbaric chambers.
Getting familiar with the chamber and its environment ahead of the session, can ease the patient’s anxiousness.
Similar is the case of claustrophobic patients. Since HBOT sessions happen inside a hyperbaric chamber, such patients may find it difficult to bear and undergo the treatment for the entire session sitting inside.
Various new initiatives and research are being carried out to provide HBOT treatment to patients with severe claustrophobia. One such initiative is to provide an alternative oxygen supply technique for such patients.
Whether a patient requiring HBOT treatment is suffering from anxiety, depression, or claustrophobia, they need to inform and discuss with the doctor about their medical condition and follow the appropriate medical advice.
Additionally, inside a hyperbaric chamber, the oxygen level in the air is increased gradually. It also increases the air pressure. At times, the increased pressure can be felt in the ears. It is best to prepare the ears before the therapy session begins.
One may follow the steps such as-
- Clean the ears off any excessive ear waxes.
- Clear off the ear pressure from within by swallowing or yawning.
- Take a deep breath, and then close the nostrils by pinching the nose and gently blowing the air out.
5. Things allowed and prohibited
A hyperbaric chamber has an environment that is full of oxygen. Thus, entering the chamber requires a few precautions. The patients may not be allowed to carry their cell phones, watches, electronic gadgets, cigarettes, lighter, etc. It is to ensure overall safety.
Check with your treatment center whether they have lockers available to store your personal belongings before starting the session. Many such centers may provide or allow magazines and similar reading materials for entertainment inside the chamber while the therapy session is in progress.
It is best practice to wear comfortable clothes during the session. Due to its highly inflammable nature, clothes made out of synthetic material that can cause static sparks are prohibited inside a hyperbaric chamber. Therefore, only purely cotton clothes are prescribed to be worn during an ongoing session.
A patient has to arrive at the therapy center as naturally as possible. Thus usage of cosmetics, makeup, skin lotions, perfumes, and nail paints is prohibited.
After going through hyperbaric therapy, one’s ability to drive a car is generally not impeded. However, a patient may occasionally feel a little lightheaded. At such times, it is advisable not to drive a car; rather, one must sit for a few moments before embarking on the journey. Avoid any physical exertion immediately after coming out of the hyperbaric chamber.
It is best to plan and have an easy schedule for the rest of the day after the session gets completed.
Drink plenty of water and fluid to keep the body hydrated. Follow any other instructions issued to you by your doctor or the medical staff at the treatment center. In case of any difficulty, contact your doctor without any delay.
HBOT sessions inside a specially designed pressurized hyperbaric chamber can improve many of the health issues one may have. Due to its nature, it is best to keep precautionary measures in mind. While preparing for hyperbaric therapy, the foremost concerns to focus on are safety and the patient’s comfort.
Whenever in doubt, do not hesitate to seek professional advice from your doctor or the medical staff.