What should I expect during a ‘dive’?
During your HBOT session, known as a ‘dive’, you will be lying on your back inside the chamber, supported by pillows. A blanket and/or hot water bottle will be offered to you to make you more comfortable. During your session you can read, meditate, watch a movie or take a nap. You will breathe concentrated oxygen through a cannula for the duration of your treatment.
One of our fully trained technicians will be with you throughout your dive and will be in communication with you during this time through the built in telephone and walkie talkie given to you. The chamber will slowly be pressurised up to 1.5 ATA and the technician will keep checking with you to ensure you are completely comfortable.
You may hear a range of noises: the sound of air moving through pipes and valves and some clicking noises. Whenever the chamber reaches a new gauge of pressure, it is maintained by ‘flushing’ of air out of the tank via a vent. This is all part of normal operation.
As the pressure in the hyperbaric chamber increases, you may find that you need to equalise, or ‘pop’ your ears, similar to the feeling when ascending or descending in an aeroplane. This pressure can be relieved by simply yawning, swallowing, moving your jaw, or holding your nose and blowing. Please advise our technician should you experience any pain or discomfort in your ears, pressurisation will not continue until any discomfort has gone. If you have mild congestion, you can still go ahead and benefit from a dive at a slower rate of compression. A dive at 1.2 ATA vs 1.5 is still therapeutic should discomfort prevent further compression.
As your dive comes to an end the chamber will start to depressurise and, again, you may find the need to equalise using the techniques above. Once the pressure inside the chamber has returned to normal atmospheric pressure, the door will release and is able to be pushed back. Please take your time when exiting the chamber as this can be tricky, especially after laying down for 90 minutes. Please don’t hesitate to ask your technician for assistance if you require help.
How should I prepare for treatment?
Dives generally take 90 minutes so it is advised that you eat and drink prior to your appointment, as well as going to the bathroom. Please note that no food or drinks are allowed in the chamber; however, if you have diabetes, we ask you to bring a suitable snack in case your blood sugar drops in the chamber.
If you smoke, we recommend no nicotine for several hours before and after your appointment to gain the most benefits from your treatment. If you use a nicotine patch, we recommend that you remove it for several hours before and after your treatment. The longer you avoid nicotine, the more tissue oxygenation will be able to benefit you.
Please ensure you wear comfortable, light clothing, ideally of natural fibres. You will need to remove belts and shoes before getting into the chamber. You are free to bring a book with you to read, or, we provide current magazines. Please inform your technician if you have any changes in health status such as a change in medication, a sinus or ear infection, or that you may be pregnant.
Can I communicate when I am in the chamber?
How frequently should I receive treatments?
How many treatments needed will vary according to the type of health issue you are looking to address. Studies show that frequency of treatment is important in achieving optimal outcomes.
A health issue that has only recently started or an acute injury such as a very recent concussion are likely to respond quickly. This is because long-term tissue and cellular changes have not taken place. Preparing for surgery usually requires only a couple of sessions and then follow-up as soon as possible after surgery to reduce infection rates and speed recovery. Sports people find that a session after hard training enables them to recover quickly and train harder.
For very long standing/chronic health conditions our practitioners are likely to recommend an initial group of 40 sessions, 60-90 minutes in duration, 5-6 days per week. Your mHBOT technician will determine what frequency, duration and reassessment plan would be appropriate for you, based on your particular condition/disease and current health status.
Are there any risks involved with mHBOT?
Generally, mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy is very safe. Otic barotrauma (ear pain) can occur due to difficulty equalising ear pressure. It is typically quite temporary and easily controlled. Yawning or swallowing can remedy it—similar to what one would do when taking off and landing in an airplane.
Other issues such as seizures, myopia (nearsightedness), cataracts, and oxygen toxicity do not relate to mild HBOT therapy as they are unheard of at pressures of 1.5 ATA and below.
When should I NOT go into a mild hyperbaric chamber?
The only absolute contraindications to mild HBOT are pneumothorax and air-trapping emphysema. However, in the following cases, going into the chamber should be avoided:
- Acute asthma attack
- Cardiac disease: patients with an ejection fraction less than 35% are contraindicated for therapy
- Congenital spherocytosis (due to the fragility of the red blood cells)
- COPD or Emphysema with CO2 entrapment; in combination with HBOT this might lead to pneumothorax
- High Fever
- History of recent thoracic surgery; this is usually not a problem although caution should be taken as there might be air
- entrapped in chest wounds.
- Retinal detachment repair with ‘oil bubble’ present
- Optic neuritis
- Uncontrolled seizure disorder
- Upper respiratory infections or ear infection; this might make it difficult for patients to equalise the pressure in their ears or
- sinuses during the treatment
- If you are taking the following medications you should speak with your primary healthcare provider about discontinuing
- them prior to receiving mild HBOT.
- Cis-Platinum—a chemotherapy agent
- Disulfiram (Antabuse®)—an oral tablet used to treat chronic alcoholism
- Doxorubicin (Adriamycin®)—a chemotherapy agent
- Mafenide Acetate (Sulfamylon®)—a topical cream used to prevent and treat bacterial or fungal infections
- Pregnancy is a relative contraindication. If you think you may be pregnant please speak with your Hyperbaric technician.