When you get an injury, your body is remarkably good at healing. Your body works hard to heal cuts and bruises – often, with smaller injuries, we don’t even realize it is happening. But sometimes your body can use a little assistance in speeding the healing process up.
Thanks to scientific and medical progress, accelerating the healing process is possible through something called hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
In your body’s normal healing process, the mitochondria and stem cells both need oxygen in order to heal a wound. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps these parts of your cells by increasing oxygen levels, preventing infection, and reducing swelling.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a hyperbaric chamber that looks a bit like a spaceship. In the chamber, air pressure is raised to about two and a half times the normal level. In this state of increased air pressure, your body can bring more oxygen to the cells that need it for the healing process.
Who can it help?
- Cuts and wounds
- Injury from radiation therapy
- Skin grafts
- Bone infections
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can even work with antibiotics to treat infections.
What is it like?
Being in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber may sound intimidating or scary, but it’s really quite comfortable. The chamber is a glass cylinder which you can see out of on all sides. There is a bed you can relax on during the treatment. A technician is just outside the chamber, who you can speak with at any time.
Because the air pressure is higher in the chamber, you may feel pressure in your ears – similar to the feeling of flying in an airplane. Yawning or swallowing can help clear your ears. It is also possible that you may feel sinus pressure, experience low blood sugar, or have accelerated cataract growth. All of these side effects can be lessened by changing the oxygen and air pressure levels in the chamber slowly.