HBOT stands for HyperBaric Oxygen Therapy, and it’s also known by the abbreviation HBO. It’s a medical treatment that uses the power of oxygen to help the body heal and recover. This treatment is also referred to as Hyperbaric Medicine.
During HBOT, a patient goes into a special chamber, which can be either a hard or soft enclosure. Inside this chamber, the patient breathes in oxygen at a higher-than-normal atmospheric pressure. This higher pressure allows more oxygen to enter the body.
Now, let’s understand how this treatment works to support the healing process:
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- More Oxygen for the Body: Inside the chamber, the increased pressure helps the body absorb more oxygen. This oxygen goes into the blood cells, blood plasma (the liquid part of blood), cerebral-spinal fluid (the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord), and other body fluids.
- Oxygen in the Tissues: The pressurized oxygen doesn’t just stay in the bloodstream; it also goes into the tissues of the body. This is beneficial because tissues need oxygen to function properly and heal.
- Encouraging New Blood Vessels: HBOT promotes the growth of new blood vessels. These blood vessels are essential because they bring fresh oxygen and nutrients to areas that need healing. It’s like building new roads to connect and nourish different parts of the body. This is called “angiogenesis“.
- Blood Plasma’s Role: Blood plasma is the part of blood that doesn’t have cells but carries various nutrients, hormones, and gases like oxygen. Under pressure, blood plasma can carry a full 100% of oxygen. This means that with HBOT, the body gets a supercharge of oxygen-rich blood plasma.
By combining all these effects, HBOT significantly boosts the body’s natural ability to heal itself. The extra oxygen fuels the body’s repair processes, helps reduce inflammation, fights infections, and supports overall recovery.
Doctors use HBOT to treat various conditions, including wounds that are slow to heal, infections, certain types of ulcers, and injuries caused by radiation therapy. It’s also used for some neurological conditions and carbon monoxide poisoning, among others.
HBOT is a safe and non-invasive treatment option, but it’s essential to have it administered by trained medical professionals. It’s a fascinating way that medical science leverages the power of oxygen to help our bodies heal and thrive.
Below is a visual depiction of hyperbaric oxygen in the blood plasma and tissues. Oxygen is represented as the small, white dots.