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What are the most common uses for hyperbaric chambers? I've heard that athletes use them, but what medical needs are these things used for?

4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Mohamud Daya
Emergency Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Hyperbaric

Hyperbaric chambers are used for a variety of medical conditions.
The two most common reasons in the practice of emergency medicine involve carbon monoxide poisoning and also diving emergencies. In carbon monoxide poisoning, the use of hyperbaric oxygen shortens the half-ilfe of carbon monoxide in the body and studies have also suggested that it helps mitigate some of the cellular damage caused by exposure to this toxin. With regards to diving medicine, two emergencies of concern are the bends (due to too much nitrogen coming out in the form of bubbles within tissues) and pulmonary overpressurization syndromes associated with secondary air emboli. Chambers are also now used to accelerate chronic wound healing especially in individuals with poor tissue blood supply related to underlying diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.

In brief: Hyperbaric

Hyperbaric chambers are used for a variety of medical conditions.
The two most common reasons in the practice of emergency medicine involve carbon monoxide poisoning and also diving emergencies. In carbon monoxide poisoning, the use of hyperbaric oxygen shortens the half-ilfe of carbon monoxide in the body and studies have also suggested that it helps mitigate some of the cellular damage caused by exposure to this toxin. With regards to diving medicine, two emergencies of concern are the bends (due to too much nitrogen coming out in the form of bubbles within tissues) and pulmonary overpressurization syndromes associated with secondary air emboli. Chambers are also now used to accelerate chronic wound healing especially in individuals with poor tissue blood supply related to underlying diabetes or peripheral vascular disease.
Dr. Mohamud Daya
Dr. Mohamud Daya
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Dr. Enoch Huang
Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Hyperbaric

Hyperbaric medicine is used for much more than the occasional athlete one reads about in the news.
It is a field that has many uses from emergency treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning and decompression sickness ("the bends") to the treatment of chronic, non-healing wounds. The principle behind hyperbaric oxygen therapy (hbot) is the delivery of oxygen to the body. You should think of oxygen as any other "drug" that you might take. The air we breathe has roughly 20% oxygen. If you were to breathe 100% "pure" oxygen, that would be 5 times the "dose" of oxygen that you are breathing now. If you were to place yourself in a hyperbaric chamber, breathe 100% oxygen, and then double the pressure in that chamber, it is as if you are getting 200% oxygen. You should think of oxygen as the medicine, and the hyperbaric chamber as the "pill" or "shot" or other means of getting it into your body. Now, why would you need hbot? In the wound care world, there are many uses that are accepted for the use of hyperbaric oxygen. It is commonly used in patients who have had radiation treatments for cancer. The radiation causes the blood vessels that are in the irradiated field to become atrophied and causes the skin and tissue to become harder and less supple. This may lead to problems with healing in the tissues, and result in open wounds (surgery in an irradiated field), dental decay (teeth that are irradiated for head and neck cancer), bleeding from the bladder or recturm (for prostate or cervical cancer). Hbot can stimulate new blood vessels to grow in these areas, resulting in healthier tissues and a return to normal function. Hbot can also be used in diabetics who have non-healing wounds of the feet and lower extremity. The use of hbot in a comprehensive wound care plan can decrease the number of amputations and increase the percentage of wounds that can heal. Hbot has been used for patients with surgical wounds that are failing to heal, as well as chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis). There are some people who advocate the use of hbot for "off-label" indications such as lyme disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, or cerebral palsy. The data on these indications is not as strong, and these are not currently accepted uses of hbot by the fda. To get a more in-depth description than is covered here, you can go to the undersea and hyperbaric medicine society's website (http://membership.Uhms.Org/?Page=indications) for more information.

In brief: Hyperbaric

Hyperbaric medicine is used for much more than the occasional athlete one reads about in the news.
It is a field that has many uses from emergency treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning and decompression sickness ("the bends") to the treatment of chronic, non-healing wounds. The principle behind hyperbaric oxygen therapy (hbot) is the delivery of oxygen to the body. You should think of oxygen as any other "drug" that you might take. The air we breathe has roughly 20% oxygen. If you were to breathe 100% "pure" oxygen, that would be 5 times the "dose" of oxygen that you are breathing now. If you were to place yourself in a hyperbaric chamber, breathe 100% oxygen, and then double the pressure in that chamber, it is as if you are getting 200% oxygen. You should think of oxygen as the medicine, and the hyperbaric chamber as the "pill" or "shot" or other means of getting it into your body. Now, why would you need hbot? In the wound care world, there are many uses that are accepted for the use of hyperbaric oxygen. It is commonly used in patients who have had radiation treatments for cancer. The radiation causes the blood vessels that are in the irradiated field to become atrophied and causes the skin and tissue to become harder and less supple. This may lead to problems with healing in the tissues, and result in open wounds (surgery in an irradiated field), dental decay (teeth that are irradiated for head and neck cancer), bleeding from the bladder or recturm (for prostate or cervical cancer). Hbot can stimulate new blood vessels to grow in these areas, resulting in healthier tissues and a return to normal function. Hbot can also be used in diabetics who have non-healing wounds of the feet and lower extremity. The use of hbot in a comprehensive wound care plan can decrease the number of amputations and increase the percentage of wounds that can heal. Hbot has been used for patients with surgical wounds that are failing to heal, as well as chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis). There are some people who advocate the use of hbot for "off-label" indications such as lyme disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, or cerebral palsy. The data on these indications is not as strong, and these are not currently accepted uses of hbot by the fda. To get a more in-depth description than is covered here, you can go to the undersea and hyperbaric medicine society's website (http://membership.Uhms.Org/?Page=indications) for more information.
Dr. Enoch Huang
Dr. Enoch Huang
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Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry

In brief: Hyperbaric Chamber

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to treat dive-related medical problems.
In the case of air or gas embolism to the brain, it can reduce the size of the gas bubble as well as improving the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to tissues that need it. Once the bubble becomes small enough, it can be absorbed by the body. It is a mainstay for the treatment of decompression sickness. >>>.

In brief: Hyperbaric Chamber

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to treat dive-related medical problems.
In the case of air or gas embolism to the brain, it can reduce the size of the gas bubble as well as improving the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to tissues that need it. Once the bubble becomes small enough, it can be absorbed by the body. It is a mainstay for the treatment of decompression sickness. >>>.
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Dr. Heidi Fowler
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1 comment
Dr. Heidi Fowler
It can be used to treat a variety of conditions including: Decompression Sickness, Osteomyelitis, Air Embolism, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, significant burns, gangrenous lesions, radiation injuries, necrotizing fasciitis, omitted decompression, etc.
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