Posted on July 9, 2023 at 1:47 pm

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What Are The Complications of Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

The hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) medical procedure involves breathing pure oxygen in a highly pressurized environment that is often 1.5-3 times greater than ambient air pressure.

Hyperbaric chamber manufacturer Oxygenark has created designs to help patients and individuals fight such situations and stay engaged while in the chambers.

Since it was originally used to treat deep-sea divers who suffered decompression sickness, HBOT has been used to treat various illnesses, including severe burns and carbon monoxide poisoning. There is still a risk of unpleasant effects, even if some people only experience little or none.

Although they typically disappear after 6 to 8 weeks, HBOT side effects, including lightheadedness and altered vision, are possible.

These unfavorable side effects are rare and potentially lethal but usually develop after challenging, perhaps deadly medical treatments.

Complications Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

Given below are some of the complications and risk factors that you must know before going in for a hyperbaric oxygen treatment—

1. Low Blood Sugar Levels

During therapy, blood sugar levels in diabetes patients may drop, resulting in symptoms such as lightheadedness, disorientation, and perspiration. 

Regular monitoring and consultation with medical professionals are essential to prevent and manage hypoglycemia. 

In order to restore normal blood sugar levels, people may need to have a snack or drink anything with carbs. 

Discussing any symptoms or worries throughout therapy with the medical professional is critical. 

Eating before sessions helps keep blood sugar levels stable and reduces side effects from therapy, such as weakness or dizziness. 

Also, patients should carry quick-acting carbs to their appointments, such as glucose tablets or juice, in case their blood sugar levels suddenly plummet.

2. Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia is a strong emotional response from a fear of enclosed or crowded areas. Clear acrylic hyperbaric chambers can aid those with claustrophobia and anxiety. 

If cramped areas make you uncomfortable, let your doctor know so they can prescribe a sedative. 

The typical session lasts around two hours, and a qualified healthcare expert is always present. The procedure may be done while dozing off, enjoying a movie, or listening to music. 

Multiplace chambers can accommodate numerous people, but monoplace chambers are made for just one person.

You must contact your instructor or doctor and address this issue before going for treatment.

3. Lightheadedness And Fatigue

You can feel weak and exhausted following hyperbaric therapy, but these symptoms should pass after a short rest. 

Drink lots of water and eat a balanced meal to speed up your recuperation. If your symptoms worsen, you should speak with your healthcare practitioner for additional assessment and advice. 

After receiving therapy, wait at least 24 hours before engaging in intense exercise. For optimum healing, adhere to your healthcare provider’s post-treatment recommendations. 

See a doctor or other healthcare provider if side effects worsen or continue to damage your quality of life. 

Review your treatment strategy and take the medications as directed. Put rest and self-care first to encourage a quick recovery.

4. Lung Damage

Patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other lung conditions may experience worsening of their respiratory symptoms. 

Air leaks brought on by excessive chest expansion might result in lung collapse and breathing difficulties. The consequences of untreated symptoms might be fatal. 

Air leaks from the lungs can also cause embolisms, which can impede blood flow and be lethal if left untreated. 

Fatigue and lightheadedness are potential HBOT side effects, but more serious issues may also occur, including lung damage, fluid accumulation, or ear rupture. 

The most frequent side effect of HBO, which affects the middle ear, an air-filled hollow linked to the neck through the eustachian tube, is the barotrauma of the ear.

5. The Risk Of Catching Fire

Fire hazard in hyperbaric environments is a concern due to the need for enough fuel, oxygen, and an igniting source. 

The increased pressure in hyperbaric chambers can make materials more flammable and hasten the spread of fires. The presence of pure oxygen in some hyperbaric chambers may increase the risk of a fire.

Strict safety regulations and regular equipment maintenance are necessary to prevent fires. 

Between 1923 and 1996, 77 persons perished in fires that started in hyperbaric chambers, three in Apollo Command Modules, and two in hypobaric chambers. 

Healthcare employees must be trained in fire prevention and emergency response procedures to safeguard the security of patients and healthcare professionals.

Can Prolonged Exposure to HBOT Lead to Chest Pain?

In rare cases, prolonged exposure to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can lead to chest pain. This can occur due to a condition known as oxygen toxicity, which is caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of oxygen. 

When the concentration of oxygen exceeds the body’s tolerance level, it can produce reactive oxygen species that can cause damage to cells and tissues, including the lungs. This can manifest as chest pain or discomfort. 

However, it is important to note that the risk of oxygen toxicity and associated chest pain is extremely low in standard HBOT treatments conducted under appropriate medical supervision. 

The treatment duration and pressure levels are carefully monitored to ensure patient safety, and healthcare professionals closely monitor and manage any potential side effects.

How to Avoid the Complications Associated With HBOT 

  • Seek professional guidance: Consult with a healthcare professional experienced in hyperbaric medicine who can assess your condition, determine if HBOT is appropriate, and guide you through the treatment process.
  • Choose a reputable facility: Select a certified and well-equipped hyperbaric center with experienced staff to ensure the highest standards of safety and care.
  • Follow treatment protocols: Adhere to your healthcare professional’s recommended treatment duration, frequency, and pressure settings. Avoid self-administering or altering the treatment without medical supervision.
  • Communicate health history: Provide a comprehensive medical history to your healthcare team, including any pre-existing conditions, medications, allergies, or past adverse reactions, to ensure proper risk assessment and management.
  • Report any symptoms: Immediately inform your healthcare provider if you experience any unusual or concerning symptoms during or after HBOT, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or ear discomfort.
  • Monitor oxygen exposure: While HBOT is generally safe, excessive exposure to high oxygen levels can lead to complications. Strictly adhere to the prescribed oxygen concentrations and pressure levels to minimize the risk of oxygen toxicity.

How To Prepare For A Successful Therapy Session?

The Hyperbaric Healing Therapy Center prioritizes patient safety (HBOT) during hyperbaric oxygen therapy. HBOT is a sealed chamber that increases air pressure and oxygen content. 

To maximize their benefits, patients should follow a balanced diet, stay hydrated, refrain from drinking alcohol and carbonated beverages, and quit smoking and using tobacco products. 

It is safe to drive to and from appointments, but please call the center immediately if you experience flu-like symptoms or a cold. There are lockers and a water bottle accessible for personal belongings storage.

Cotton clothing is permitted within the chamber, but only with the Safety Director’s permission. A special wristband is required for static discharge. 

For comfort, blankets and pillows are provided. Patients shouldn’t wear deodorants, lotions, perfume, cosmetics, and hair products. 

Wipes for cleaning are supplied in the changing room. Patients must consume enough water and follow the instructions given by hyperbaric professionals.

Who Should Avoid Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

While hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are certain individuals who should avoid or exercise caution with this therapy. 

Patients with the following conditions may be advised against HBOT or require careful evaluation and consideration:

  • Untreated pneumothorax.
  • Uncontrolled seizures.
  • Active ear infections.
  • Certain types of lung diseases
  • Claustrophobia.

It is important for individuals with these conditions to consult with their healthcare provider before considering HBOT. A thorough evaluation of their medical history, current health status, and risk-benefit analysis can help determine the appropriateness of HBOT or identify alternative treatment options that may be more suitable.


Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) is generally safe. However, there are potential complications associated with this therapy. These complications include oxygen toxicity, barotrauma (injuries caused by pressure changes), ear problems, and transient myopia (temporary nearsightedness).

It is important to note that these complications are rare and can be minimized through proper patient selection, adherence to treatment protocols, and careful monitoring during HBOT sessions. 

By following guidelines, receiving treatment in reputable facilities, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals experienced in hyperbaric medicine, the risks associated with HBOT can be effectively managed. 

It is crucial for patients to communicate any symptoms or concerns to their healthcare providers, who can promptly address and manage potential complications to ensure the safe and effective administration of HBOT.

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