How HBO—the treatment, not the TV network—could help doctors fight COVID-19


A nurse and patient inside a hyperbaric chamber at Mariners Hospital, in Tavernier, Fla. PHOTO: STEPHEN FRINK

In a world full of acronyms—NASA, scuba, and, yes, COVID, among others—it may seem imponderable that one of the most well-known has gone largely unmentioned during discussions of the novel coronavirus. I mean, how could HBO get left behind?

The answer is both complicated and promising. But at its heart is this: As it pertains to the virus, HBO is most certainly not something you can find with your remote.

Rather, we’re talking about the acronym for a treatment that we’ve used for nearly a century to address various maladies: hyperbaric oxygen, or HBO in the medical shorthand. And although the research is still young, the early results from HBO’s use on COVID-19 patients range from encouraging to surprisingly strong.


Despite this, we’ve heard very little about hyperbaric oxygen and its apparent ability to help patients fight some of the virus’s effects. I review volumes of medical literature each week, and even I was surprised to discover how little there was on this topic until it appeared in a physician chat group recently.

A little about the basics: During HBO treatment, a patient is placed in a sealed single- or multi-person chamber, where high levels of oxygen are delivered to the lungs, and then absorbed into the bloodstream under pressure. This is very similar to what happens when a scuba diver breathes oxygen from a tank at depth—more oxygen enters the tissues. And HBO has been found over the years to advance healing and successfully treat a variety of conditions, including burns, soft-tissue infections, and chronic wounds. It has a long track record of safety.


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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.