Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?

 

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a whole body treatment, which improves the body's natural healing process by inhaling 100% pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber with a safe and comfortable patient inside. 

 

Through an oxygen mask, the patient breathes in 100% medical oxygen. Once the chamber reaches the predetermined pressurization, the oxygen level in the patient's bloodstream increases many times above normal. This is where healing begins to take place with the oxygen now being able to reach deep into the tissues to promote recovery. 

 

Furthermore, the increased oxygen greatly boosts white blood cell count to help kill bacteria, reduce swelling and even allow new blood vessels to grow more rapidly in the affected areas.

 

Hyperbaric therapy is a simple, non-invasive, and painless treatment.

What are the benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?

 

Physical recovery requires adequate oxygen levels to the tissues or healing isn't able occur. Recovery can become complicated and linger at the cellular or tissue level when not addressed. Sometimes adequate oxygen cannot reach the damaged area and the body's natural healing ability is unable to function properly.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a non-invasive method for providing this extra oxygen naturally and with minimal side effects.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to improve patients quality of life when traditional medicine is not working. Conditions such as head injuries, chronic fatigue, stroke, cerebral palsy, cancer, diabetes and more have responded favorably to HBOT. 

The following conditions are covered by insurance (in the U.S.):

  • Embolism

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Compartment Syndrome/Crush Injury

  • Diabetic and Selected Wounds

  • Exceptional Blood Loss (Anemia)

  • Gas Gangrene

  • Intracranial Abscess

  • Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection

  • Osteoradionecrosis and Radiation Tissue Damage

  • Osteomyelitis (Refractory)

  • Skin Grafts

  • Thermal Burns

The following conditions are usually "off-label" and may or may not be covered by insurance or Medicare:

  • Autism

  • Cerebral Palsy

  • Lyme Disease

  • Migraine

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Near Drowning

  • Recovery from Plastic Surgery

  • Sports Injuries

  • Stroke

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

To view a full list of off-label conditions and to review the latest research compiled by our medical director
Dr. Ratansi, please visit his website at 
Hyperbaricexperts.com.

What is the recommended treatment schedule?

 

Positive healing is typically seen within a course of 40 hyperbaric oxygen treatments. Most practitioners advise daily one-hour sessions, five days per week for up to three months.

 

Recovery time can be accelerated by committing to an intensive 40-hour protocol. Intensive protocols typically consist of 2 sessions per day for 3-4 weeks. This can bring a 3-month recovery period down to one month, as it achieves a total of 40 sessions much faster. Please note: When deciding to attend two sessions per day, allow a minimum of 4 hours between the start of each treatment. 

Is there a doctor on site?

 

Our medical director, Dr. Ratansi, ND is available for consultation by phone, text or email. He is not located on site, however, he has designed our protocols to conform with the highest possible safety standards. We typically provide pressures at 2.0 atmospheres or below, which is the industry standard for safety and efficacy. Dr. Ratansi can also help answer any additional questions that you may have regarding HBOT and your condition. Dr. Ratansi is also able to talk to your current healthcare provider(s) and help determine, integrate, and personalize your hyperbaric health program. 

Are there contraindications with HBOT?

 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy should not be used if the patient has a collapsed lung.

Physician approval and precautions should be taken for treatment of the following conditions: 

  • Current upper respiratory infections, chronic sinusitis, or sinus problems

  • High fever

  • Pregnancy

  • Severe emphysema or lung disease, and breathing difficulties and/or fluid in the lungs

When these conditions are present it does not mean treatment cannot be done. A physician should always evaluate the patient first and determine if hyperbaric oxygen therapy is possible.

Are there side effects of hyperbaric treatment?

 

As with any treatment, side effects are possible, however, hyperbaric oxygen side effects are minimal. HBOT has been proven to be extremely safe, and the actual number of side effects is extremely small.

 

Oxygen under pressure is a therapeutic dose of oxygen. As we know, the higher the dose of a drug (in this case oxygen) the greater the risk for potential side effects. The prescription dose of oxygen is based upon pressurization, time, and percentage of oxygen. Therefore, an increase in pressurization, time, or percentage of oxygen will all independently increase the dose of oxygen.

 

With short term 100% oxygen delivery, the side effects noticed at 1.5 and 2.0 atmospheres of pressure (ATA) are relatively minimal. Side effects at 3.0 ATA or higher are non-optimum and not recommended. At clinical pressure below 3.0 ATA, clinicians have demonstrated a significant decrease in the incidence of initial onset oxygen toxicity.  

Most Common Side Effects

  • Ear and/or sinus pressure/pain

  • Claustrophobia

  • Fatigue

Other Side Effects That Are Rare​

  • Oxygen toxicity 

  • Myopia

  • Cataract progression

  • Lung damage

  • Risk of fire

  • Blood sugars may drop too low in diabetic patients

Other Areas of Concern​

  • Pregnancy 

  • Severe asthma

  • Congenital spherocytosis

  • Emphysema with CO2 retention

  • High fevers

  • History of middle ear surgery or disorders

  • History of seizures

  • Optic neuritis

  • Pneumothorax

  • Upper respiratory tract infections

What is the treatment like?

 

Every visit, your technician will ask how you are feeling and ensure you are physically ready for treatment. Once inside, your technician will ensure you feel safe and comfortable, before sealing the door and beginning your treatment. Next, the pressure is gradually increased until the predetermined pressure level is achieved.

 

Once achieved, you will breathe 100% pure medical grade oxygen for the duration of an hour through a mask. You may read a book, magazine, just relax, or even sleep! We also provide the option of watching a movie or listening to music during your session. 

Details About Pressurization​

A session usually lasts about 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes, depending on how fast the hyperbaric chamber is pressurized and depressurized. As the chamber is being pressurized, air presses on your eardrums and pushes them inwards, similar to the feeling that you may have experienced when you are flying on an airplane. This build-up in pressure can become painful if you do not equalize your ears.

 

The good news is that most people can easily clear (or 'pop') their ears, both in the chamber and on air flights. Some, however, can have extreme difficulty, particularly when they have a cold/flu and are congested. Be sure to signal the technician immediately if you have discomfort in your ears or sinuses. Don't wait until it really hurts.

 

The technician will stop pressurizing and decrease the pressure until you equalize. When you're comfortable, we will resume pressurizing. Our technicians are experienced with helping special needs patients and are prepared to work with your individual requirements.​​

Ears and Sinus Equalization​

This may vary patient to patient. The following are the most common methods:

  • Swallow, yawn, or drink sips of water.

  • Turn your head to one side and swallow, then turn your head to the other side and swallow. Repeat, if necessary.

  • The Valsalva Maneuver - Pinch your nose closed, close your mouth and lift the front-tip of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth. Attempt to blow through your pinched nose (short and sharp) but not too forcefully. This directs air from your throat into your ears and sinus air spaces. ​

Nasal Decongestants

If you have a history of problems with your ears when flying or traveling up mountains, you may wish to use nasal decongestants before your first few treatments. Always check with your doctor, but here are some general guidelines that have been suggested: 

 

With young children, tilt their head back and put one drop of pediatric nose drops in each nostril one and a half to two hours before HBOT. Wait 5-10 minutes and then put a second drop in each nostril. Use Afrin or a similar nasal spray 20-30 minutes after the nose drops. Do not repeat the nasal spray. 

How to communicate?

You will be taught simple hand signals for quick interactions, such as the 'OK' hand signal to indicate you are doing fine. There will also be a pen and paper provided for messages to communicate to your technician. To get the attention of your technician, simply knock on the chamber. 

What is or isn't allowed inside the chamber?

Electronics, ignition sources, as well as, any products that are Petroleum or alcohol-based are not allowed inside the chamber at any time. This includes items such as phones, hearing aids, watches, lighters, matches, cigarettes, nylons, wigs, ointments, makeup, lipstick, balm, hairspray, hair dressings, synthetic materials, or hard contact lenses, etc. Anything that creates static in any way should be kept out of the chamber. Patients are asked to remove their shoes before the session, as well.

You may take water bottles, books and magazines into the chamber. Blankets and pillows are always provided for warmth and comfort inside the chamber. Only 100% cotton or a (50/50) cotton/polyester blend fabrics are permitted inside the chamber. However, underwear items with metal, such as under wire bras, can be worn as long as cotton clothing covers them.

 

This is to reduce the risk of possible build up of static electricity. If you have a wound dressing of any kind, the technician must examine it before you enter the chamber. Also, please refrain from the use of strong odor-producing deodorants, perfumes/colognes or essential oils. Please be considerate of the patients after you. 

​As a general rule, do not take anything into the chamber unless your technician has told you it is safe. 

What about diet?

Patients are advised not to have carbonated drinks or alcohol for at least 4 hours prior to the treatment. Also, you should not smoke during your program. Both of these interfere with the body's ability to absorb oxygen.

Good nutrition is important for wound healing. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and some carbonated drinks have similar negative effects like smoking. It decreases the amount of oxygen that can be transported by the blood.

 

It is strongly suggested that patients do not drink caffeinated fluids during the course of their hyperbaric oxygen treatments. If the patient cannot stop, then a period of two hours before and two hours after treatment must be caffeine-free. 

Smoking, Nicotine, and HBOT

There is broad understanding of the impact of smoking and the potential of lung cancer. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment while smoking is problematic due to the large amount of nicotine chemicals that are released into the blood stream.​

When a cigarette is smoked, a large amount of nicotine is released into the blood stream which results in maximum constriction of the blood vessels. This, in turn, reduces blood supply to the arms and legs. This condition lasts for several hours, even though the pleasant effect of nicotine smokers experience may last only a few minutes.

For most patients, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is helping encourage new blood vessel growth in areas where there is poor blood exchange resulting in slow healing. 

 

Nicotine is so powerful that it may block attempts to deliver healing levels of oxygen. If patients are long-term smokers, this habit must be suspended during hyperbaric oxygen therapy. There are effective means of intervening, which are readily available and must be employed prior to a patient being considered for a program of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 

 

With HBOT, we are trying to build new blood vessels. Nicotine works against this therapy. To enjoy positive results with hyperbarics, it is highly recommended that you stop all nicotine consumption before starting treatment. If you continue to use nicotine, you run the risk of not receiving the full benefits; treatment might take longer, or it might not work at all.

​If you opt to continue smoking, please note that smoke and other odors on your clothes are accentuated within the confines of the pressurized chamber. Try to minimize the effect of smoking while receiving treatment by abstaining within one hour pre- and post-treatment.

Got a question? Reach out to us.
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©2019 SoCal Hyperbaric Oxygen Center

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention and advice of a qualified licensed professional. This website offers people general information about hyperbaric chamber oxygen therapy (HBOT) in Los Angeles, California, and in no way should anyone consider that this site represents the practice of medicine. This site assumes no responsibility for how this material is used. Also note that this website frequently updates its contents, due to a variety of reasons. Not all statements or implied hyperbaric chamber oxygen treatments on this website have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. It is important that you do not reduce, change, or discontinue any medication or treatment without first consulting your doctor. Please consult with your doctor before beginning any new hyperbaric oxygen therapy program.