Understanding Risks and Side Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

While Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is recognized for its broad range of therapeutic benefits, from enhancing wound healing to supporting stroke recovery, like any medical treatment, it comes with potential risks and side effects. At Revivo, ensuring patient safety and informed care decisions are paramount. We believe in transparent communication about the benefits and risks associated with treatments we offer or recommend. This post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the risks and side effects associated with HBOT, enabling patients and their families to make informed decisions.

Common Side Effects of HBOT

Most side effects of HBOT are mild and temporary. They may include:

  • Ear Pain or Sinus Discomfort: Due to the changes in air pressure, similar to what one might experience during an airplane’s ascent or descent.
  • Temporary Myopia: A temporary change in vision, specifically nearsightedness, may occur due to oxygen toxicity affecting the lens of the eye. This usually resolves a few weeks after completing treatment.
  • Fatigue: Some patients report feeling tired after sessions, which could be a result of the body’s increased metabolic rate to utilize the extra oxygen.

Serious but Rare Risks

While less common, there are several serious risks associated with HBOT that require consideration:

  • Oxygen Toxicity: Breathing pure oxygen under pressure for extended periods can lead to oxygen toxicity, potentially affecting the lungs and central nervous system. Symptoms might include seizures, although this is rare.
  • Barotrauma: The high-pressure environment of the hyperbaric chamber can cause barotrauma to the ears and sinuses, potentially leading to ruptured eardrums or sinus damage if proper equalization techniques are not used.
  • Claustrophobia: The enclosed space of the hyperbaric chamber might induce feelings of claustrophobia in some patients. Modern chambers often have clear walls to help reduce this sensation, and techniques are available to help manage anxiety.

Fire Risk

A notable risk associated with HBOT is the heightened fire hazard due to the pure oxygen environment. However, strict safety protocols and fire-prevention measures significantly minimize this risk. Facilities like Revivo adhere to rigorous safety standards, ensuring that materials used within the chamber are non-flammable and that patients follow guidelines to reduce fire risk, such as not wearing oil-based products or certain clothing materials during therapy.

Precautions and Contraindications

HBOT is not suitable for everyone, and certain conditions may contraindicate its use, including:

  • Untreated Pneumothorax: The presence of air or gas in the cavity between the lungs and the chest wall can be exacerbated by the pressure changes in HBOT.
  • Certain Types of Ear Surgery or Ear Conditions: Issues with the eardrums or ear structures may be worsened by the pressure changes.
  • Severe Claustrophobia: Unless it can be effectively managed, severe claustrophobia may make undergoing HBOT challenging.

Making Informed Decisions

Before starting HBOT, it’s important for patients to discuss their medical history, potential risks, and concerns with their healthcare provider. An individual assessment will help determine if HBOT is a suitable and safe option.

Conclusion

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy offers significant benefits for various conditions but comes with potential risks and side effects that patients should be aware of. At Revivo, patient safety is our top priority, and we are committed to providing detailed information and support to those considering HBOT. By understanding both the advantages and potential drawbacks, patients can make informed decisions about their treatment options, ensuring the best possible outcomes for their health and well-being.

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