Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can be used to treat decompression sickness, radiation injuries, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Doctors can also use hyperbaric medicine to treat several other conditions, including diabetic foot ulcers. If you are thinking of getting into a hyperbaric chamber, you might be wondering whether it is safe and FDA-approved.
What Is Hyperbaric Medicine?
Hyperbaric medicine uses high-pressure oxygen therapy to improve the body’s ability to heal itself from injury. The procedure involves breathing pure oxygen in an enclosed chamber called a hyperbaric chamber or pressurized room. To ensure maximum healing, the increased pressure sends more oxygen into your bloodstream.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an agency in the United States government that regulates food, drugs, and medical devices. It is the primary regulator of prescription drugs, medical devices, and some over-the-counter drugs. The FDA is also responsible for reporting any adverse events to a drug or device after it is approved for use.
FDA-Approved Conditions to Treat with Hyperbaric Medicine
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of HBOT for treating certain conditions. Doctors must follow the guidelines laid out by the FDA for each condition. If you want to know whether hyperbaric medicine is FDA approved for you, consult your doctor.
Approved HBOT treatment conditions include carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, burns, radiation injuries, altitude sickness, and anemia. Others include air embolism, crush injury, certain types of gangrene, severe skin and bone infections, vision loss, and skin-flap necrosis. You can also use off-label HBOT to treat non-healing wounds like diabetic foot ulcers.
Off-Label Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric medicine is a treatment that has been FDA-approved for specific uses, but it also has other off-label uses that the FDA has not yet approved. Doctors can use hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat conditions that the FDA doesn’t explicitly approve. HBOT may be used to treat these other conditions if they are deemed safe and effective by the hyperbaric doctor. The FDA does not regulate how doctors use HBOT or other therapies. However, physicians who treat patients with unapproved methods may run into legal trouble if they injure them or cause them any harm.
It is advisable to visit a doctor before using hyperbaric oxygen therapy on yourself or a loved one. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used off-label for many other conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others include brain damage caused by stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI), multiple sclerosis (MS), and cerebral palsy. HBOT is also used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and cystic fibrosis. It can also help with cancer treatment side effects such as radiation necrosis or chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).
While these uses may be promising, more research is needed before they can be considered standard treatments for any condition.
The Benefits of Hyperbaric Medicine
Hyperbaric medicine can treat many conditions because it offers several advantages:
- It can help the body fight infections faster than traditional treatments
- HBOT allows more oxygen to enter your bloodstream, which boosts your immune system and speeds up healing time
- HBOT can improve circulation and reduce swelling, both of which help reduce pain
- HBOT can speed up the healing process by increasing blood flow to damaged tissue and improving cellular metabolism
Safety of Using a Hyperbaric Chamber
Hyperbaric chambers are safe when used properly by trained staff members under proper supervision. In most cases, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used safely or as part of a combination treatment plan for specific conditions.
You should avoid getting this treatment if you have a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia, or heart conditions like angina (chest pain) or arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).
Combination With Other Therapies and Treatments
Hyperbaric medicine is a safe and effective treatment for many conditions. If you do not get results from your hyperbaric treatment, it does not mean you should stop using it. You may need to combine HBOT with other therapies or treatments for better results. Consult with your doctor before starting treatment or therapy.
Potential Side Effects
Potential side effects associated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and ear pain during treatment. HBOT can also cause lung barotrauma, which is due to the abnormal amount of air pressure. Some people also report having difficulty sleeping after treatment. These side effects typically go away when you stop using the chamber. Some people experience no side effects from HBOT.
Start Your Hyperbaric Treatment Today
You can receive hyperbaric medicine from various certified hyperbaric centers. If you suffer from the 14 FDA-approved conditions mentioned above, you can get some relief from HBOT. Choose a hyperbaric center certified by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) and other credible organizations. You can also ask for referrals from friends or your physician. The doctors at the hyperbaric center are well trained and offer expert advice on managing your condition.