“Giving more oxygen is not alternative medicine,
it is sound science - common sense.
There is no substitute for oxygen.”
Professor Philip B James MB ChB, PhD, DIH, FFOM
“Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment can be important
in the fight against numerous disorders.”
Dr. Richard Neubauer
Our Q&A on hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)
What health conditions does HBOT help?
Oxygen Therapy can be used alongside more traditional medical therapy in the treatment of a variety of conditions including in the recovery from sporting injuries, skin & wound healing, cancer, stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular and liver disease, autoimmune & chronic conditions: arthritis, cognitive/neurological brain injury including Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy. Whatever the health complaint hyperbaric oxygen may be able to bring on improvement by reducing inflammation.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has a hundred-year history, yet doctors have only recently recognised that even where the level of oxygen in the blood is normal there can be a severe deficiency in the tissues.
What happens during HBOT?
Hyperbaric oxygen increases the concentration of the same oxygen we breathe normally in air. Up to 4 people sit in our barochamber that allows the pressure around the body to be increased. The treatment involves breathing pure oxygen at 1.5 to 2 times normal atmospheric pressure for one hour at a time in the chamber.
Each session can take up to 2 hours: 15 minutes to pressurise the chamber, 60 minutes breathing oxygen via a mask or hood, 15 minutes to depressurise, post session downtime.
If my oxygen levels are normal why bother?
The routine blood test of checking a person's haemoglobin to assess the oxygenation of haemoglobin, gives no indication of the amount of oxygen reaching the blood vessels.
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. Now the science is understood, this use of hyperbaric oxygen is expanding rapidly around the world.
How exactly does HBOT help me feel better?
When breathing ordinarily 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 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.
Does HBOT carry any safety risks?
Oxygen is toxic given in excessive amounts for too long but this is only relevant to divers. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in military and commercial diving for over 60 years.
Under proper supervision of trained operators, the risks of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are very minimal. The most common side effect is ear pain and users are monitored closely for this. Oxygen Oban operates with due diligence, following HBOT guidance and has full professional indemnity insurance.
Do not come for HBTO if suffering from a cold, Covid or other condition affecting your sinuses. This will protect you from ear problems and and any other users with compromised immune systems.
Oxygen Oban operates a strict Covid prevention policy - details will be provided.
SIDE EFFECTS CAN INCLUDE
MASK COMPRESSION INDENTATIONS -
Some people find their face has indentation marks after wearing an oxygen mask. This is temporary but may take some hours to settle. This depends on how tightly the wearer needs to fasten the oxygen mask to prevent oxygen leaks. The operator will advise if your oxygen mask is leaking during a session so that you can adjust it accordingly. This can be trial and error when you first start hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Some people may feel quite tired following treatment but this is not a consistent finding.
EAR OR SINUS PAIN -
Some but not all patients can experience pain in their ears or sinuses. If a client is unable to equalize their ears or sinuses, the chamber pressurisation will be slowed or halted and suitable remedies will be applied.
FLUID IN THE EARS -
As a result of breathing high concentrations of oxygen this can sometimes accumulate, feeling like having a ‘pillow over the ear’. This disappears soon after the treatment ceases and can be treated with decongestants.
Individuals with cataracts have occasionally had a maturing or ripening of the cataract.
VISUAL CHANGES -
blurring, worsening of near-sightedness (myopia), temporary improvement in far sightedness (presbyopia). After 20 or more treatments, especially for those over 40 years of age, some patients may experience a change in their vision. This is usually temporary and in the majority of patients’ vision returns to its pre-treatment level about six weeks after the cessation of therapy. It is not advisable to get a new prescription for glasses or contact lenses until at least eight weeks after our final oxygen treatment session.
DECOMPRESSION RUPTURE -
The rate of decompression in our oxygen treatment sessions is very slow in order to avoid any breathing problems. Whenever there is a rapid change in ambient pressure, there is the possibility of rupture of the lungs with escape of air into the arteries or into the chest cavity outside the lungs. This can only occur if the normal passage of air out of the lungs is blocked during decompression. It is important to keep your mask on and continue breathing and not hold your breath until the end of the session is reached.
How do I access oxygen therapy?
The benefits of HBOT are cumulative, so a starter course of c.20 sessions is advocated to saturate the body's tissues, followed by a weekly session to maintain the benefits of oxygen therapy. This means you'll need to be prepared to attend 3-5 (2hr) sessions per week, for four weeks in a row.
All new members receive advice and have a consultation with Oxygen Oban's advisor and member Liz Crawford (retired nurse). During your consultation, the appropriate pressure depth is decided for your health condition, and the ins and outs of HBOT will be explained with the opportunity for questions. An annual review is carried out for each member to check on progress.
Oxygen Oban provide a form for your GP to sign to approve HBOT. Whilst most GPs are happy to permit HBOT, as the treatment is unavailable via the NHS they have not received training in hyperbaric oxygen therapy. All users become members, with an annual fee of £1.
To find out more contact us.
How much does it cost?
As a not-for-profit charity, Oxygen Oban does not charge for hyperbaric oxygen sessions, however we ask for a recommended donation of £10 per session, or more if you can afford it. Anybody struggling to cover the recommended donation should let us know. There is an annual membership of £1.
All users are provided with a copy of our Covid protocol, with updates as necessary. The Centre follows Government guidance in addition to its own measures. Following the end of Lateral Flow tests availability, attendees are no longer required to carry out a LFT in advance of an oxygen session. Currently in line with Government advice, we do ask that attendees wear a mask on premises until swap over to an oxygen mask inside the chamber.
We have a strict cleaning regime between hyperbaric oxygen sessions. Medical grade disinfectant is used to clean surfaces, apparatus/equipment - oxygen masks are washed and rinsed in hot soapy water.
If you feel unwell, even in the event of a negative Covid test, the advice is not to attend hyperbaric oxygen therapy as it could make you feel worse and what's more possibly jepordise the health of other users.
Whilst oxygen is prescribed in hospitals, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not taught in medical schools in the UK. HBOT is generally not available on the NHS for most medical conditions. As of the 1st April 2019, the NHS does not fund any use of HBOT except in cases of decompression illness, arterial gas embolism, some soft wound tissues.
In the 1980s HBOT started to become available through charities across the UK, offering subsidised access to private chambers - at first primarily for Multiple Sclerosis. There are now over sixty HBOT facilities across the UK with Oban opening in 1990.
Many scientists and engineers are knowledgeable about HBOT, but very few medical doctors have the same understanding, if any. It is not that doctors don't approve of HBOT, but rather they cannot advise as it is not within the medical curriculum. Research trials for efficacy have been limited. Whilst medical experts agree that limited trials have shownsome beneficial outcomes, the conclusion is that further research is needed. Therefore many doctors will tell you that there is no evidence that HBOT is of proven benefit.
HBOT has become popular for health and wellness, with Hollywood stars for its anti-ageing benefits. Currently most HBOT offered via UK charities is for health conditions, but is increasingly available privately at some clinics for people seeking to preserve their youth.