Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a special pressure chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Some hospitals have a hyperbaric chamber. Smaller units may be available in outpatient centers.
The air pressure inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber is about two and a half times higher than the normal pressure in the atmosphere. This helps your blood carry more oxygen to organs and tissues in your body.
The other benefits of increased pressure of oxygen in the tissues may include:
More and improved oxygen supply
Reduction in swelling and edema
Hyperbaric therapy can help wounds, particularly infected wounds, heal more quickly. The therapy may be used to treat:
Air or gas embolism
Bone infections (osteomyelitis) that have not improved with other treatments
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Certain types of brain or sinus infections
Decompression sickness (for example, a diving injury)
Necrotizing soft tissue infections
Radiation injury (for example, damage from radiation therapy for cancer)
Wounds that have not healed with other treatments (for example, it may be used to treat a foot ulcer in someone with diabetes or very bad circulation)
This treatment may also be used to provide enough oxygen to the lung during a procedure called whole lung lavage, which is used to clean an entire lung in people with certain medical conditions.
Treatment for long-term (chronic) conditions may be repeated over days or weeks. A treatment session for more acute conditions such as decompression sickness may last longer, but may not need to be repeated.
You might feel pressure in your ears while you are in the hyperbaric chamber. Your ears may pop when you get out of the chamber.