Frequently Asked Questions About Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment that allows
patients to breathe pure oxygen while lying comfortably inside a
pressurized chamber. Breathing 100 percent oxygen delivered at
increased pressure increases the amount of oxygen delivered to organs
and tissues in the body. This improves the effects of certain
antibiotics, activates white blood cells to fight infection and promotes
the healing process of chronic wounds.
What types of conditions are treated with HBOT?
Hyperbaric treatment is well known for its use in underwater diving
accidents, but also has beneficial healing effects in other conditions
Radiation tissue damage
Diabetic wounds of the lower extremities
Other chronic nonhealing wounds
Patients are accepted for HBOT after referral from their own physician
and consultation with a physician specially trained in hyperbaric
medicine. Our staff will explain your individual treatment plan as well
as the risks and benefits of therapy.
What are the common side effects of HBOT?
Most patients tolerate hyperbaric therapy quite well. However,
there are several common side effects that may occur:
Temporary visual changes: You may experience
subtle improvement or worsening in your vision during the course
of treatment. Vision will return to pretreatment levels after
completion the course of treatment.
Fullness in the ears: As the hyperbaric
chamber pressurizes, you may notice a "popping" or fullness in
your ears. This is a temporary sensation and you will be
instructed on techniques to clear your ears. Techniques
like chewing gum and simply yawning can help equalize ear
Increased opaqueness of preexisting cataracts:
If you have been diagnosed with cataracts, you should discuss
the possibility of increased opaqueness with your
What is the typical treatment plan?
Hyperbaric treatments are generally 120 minutes daily, five days
per week. The number of treatments is based on each individual
diagnosis according to the guidelines of the Undersea and Hyperbaric
Medical Society (UHMS).
What does the HBOT chamber look like?
The hyperbaric chamber is located within the Wound Healing Center at
Paoli Hospital. The chamber is cylinder-shaped allowing you to lay
comfortably during treatment. You can see through the chamber
throughout the session and can watch TV, listen to music or even take a
nap. A nurse specially trained in hyperbaric medicine will stay
with you at all times while you receive treatment and will stay in
constant communication with you via an intercom system.
Are there conditions that can affect therapy?
If you smoke, you should try to quit prior to treatment. Smoking
may diminish the effectiveness of HBOT treatment by decreasing the
amount of oxygen that can reach the tissues. If you do not quit smoking
prior to treatment, you should not smoke for at least two hours
If you have a head cold, fever, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea prior
to or on the day of treatment, you should call us at 484-565-1212 so
that we can determine whether you should receive treatment. We also
need to know whether you have eaten breakfast or whether your
medications have changed during the course of treatment.
What is the typical treatment process?
Following an evaluation by a hyperbaric physician, you will be given
detailed instructions on how to prepare for treatment and what to expect
Pretreatment preparation: You
cannot wear the following while in the chamber: hair
spray, perfumes, makeup, nylons (stockings or pantyhose),
ointments, liniments, petroleum or Vaseline products, wigs or
hair pieces, aftershave, synthetic clothing (rayon, nylon, etc.)
or any type of salves. In addition, watches, pens,
lighters, cigarettes and matches are not permitted in the
Treatment: The first few minutes of
treatment will be somewhat noisy. The chamber may seem warm at
first and then the temperature will be adjusted to a comfortable
setting. You will feel a change in pressure in your ears
and will be instructed on how to equalize the
pressure. During the remainder of the treatment, you can
read, sleep, watch TV or listen to music.
Posttreatment: After completion of the
therapy session, the chamber will be decompressed to normal
atmospheric pressure. You may feel a bubbling sensation in
the ears, but there should be no discomfort. The
chamber will cool as it is decompressed.
If you have any questions or need further information, please
call the Wound Healing Center at Paoli Hospital at
New Appointments 1.866.CALL.MLH or 484.580.1000
255 West Lancaster Avenue
Paoli, PA 19301
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.