What is High Dosage Oxygen Treatment?
It is increasing the concentration of just the same oxygen we breathe normally in air. A hyperbaric chamber is needed to allow the pressure around the body to be increased. We all live under the pressure of the atmosphere and the extra pressure required for this treatment is small. The technology is very well established, as all commercial aircraft are hyperbaric chambers equipped with oxygen breathing systems! High Dosage Oxygen Treatment, (HDOT) often called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, has a hundred year history, but doctors have only recently recognised that even when the level of oxygen in the blood is normal there can be a severe deficiency in the tissues. Now the science is understood this use of oxygen is expanding rapidly around the World. The treatment involves breathing pure oxygen in a chamber at 1.5 to 2.5 time’s normal atmospheric pressure for an hour a day.
How will breathing more oxygen help?
The air that we breathe usually provides enough oxygen for both normal body metabolism and the repair of tissue damage after injury or illness. However, tissue damage or disease also involves the blood vessels within the tissue and this may reduce blood flow. So, just when more oxygen is needed, the supply is reduced and recovery may be limited or even prevented. By increasing the concentration of oxygen in the blood more can be delivered to damaged tissue to establish normal oxygen values and so allow recovery to take place.
How can the treatment benefit me?
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment can treat many conditions and diseases however there is no disease which cannot be treated because nothing gets better without oxygen. If a condition does not respond it is an indication that the damage has already gone too far and no amount of oxygen can reverse the disease process.
How does it work?
Oxygen is transported dissolved in the blood and also in combination with haemoglobin in the red blood cells. Although haemoglobin carries most of the oxygen, it is only the dissolved oxygen that passes into the tissues. Breathing high levels of oxygen under hyperbaric conditions dissolves more in all of the body’s fluids and so more can reach areas where the circulation is diminished or blocked and so improve recovery. The extra oxygen has additional benefits because it greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria. It also reduces swelling and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas.
What are the treatments like?
This is a simple, non-invasive and painless treatment which most patients find pleasurable and relaxing. You will be treated in a comfortable purpose built chamber.
The treatment session is in three phases:
1) Compression: After the door is closed, there will be some noise as the pressure increases. It will get warmer and you will feel “fullness” in your ears like descending in an aeroplane. You will have been taught how to avoid discomfort by clearing or “equalising” your ears. If you develop any discomfort inform the operator and the rate of compression will be reduced. There may be a few unusual noises but they can be ignored.
2) Treatment: The treatment begins when the pressure reaches the prescribed level. You may then rest, sleep, read, listen to music or watch television. It’s your opportunity to relax and get better!
3) Decompression: The operator will let you know when the treatment is complete and the pressure will be lowered slowly, again at a rate comfortable to your ears.
Wear comfortable clothing and leave your watch outside.
No smoking materials, matches or lighters are allowed in the chamber.
Note. The chamber can actually be decompressed at any time and whilst breathing oxygen, you cannot suffer decompression sickness (‘the bends’).
How often will I be having the treatment?
This depends on what you feel is appropriate. The sessions last just over an hour and are usually repeated in succession to start and then once or twice a week.
Are there any side-effects?
At the dosage used in this treatment there are no side effects from the oxygen. However, the change in pressure may cause some ear or sinus discomfort. Note that HDOT has been used in the NHS for more than 50 years and since 1982 it has also been used in the community. More than 1.6 million sessions have been carried out – 63,489 in the last year – without a single serious problem!
Do I need my doctors permission?
Yes you do. Print out the permission forms here and bring along to your first session. Please note if you do not have permission from your doctor you will not be able to proceed with the treatment.
A special note on how to clear your ears
As soon as the pressure increases in the chamber, you will need to start making your ears ‘pop.’ There are several ways to do this, and the chamber attendant will help you to discover the method that best suits you.
Usually, the easiest way to clear the ears is to swallow. Some find that blowing their nose whilst holding it and the mouth closed is also successful. Alternatively you can try moving your lower jaw from side to side then in-and-out. It is helpful to have a small drink of water just prior to the session to moisten the throat.
Do not worry if you cannot at first effectively clear or pop your ears, but let the operator know straightaway and they will be able to slow the compression and offer advice.
I have a question
No problem, just get in touch and we will answer your question as soon as possible.