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What is Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) most commonly refers to the delivery of increased levels of oxygen at greater than ambient pressure for a prescribed duration of usually 60 to 90 minutes.


The air we normally breathe contains 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, with the remaining 1% being contributed by the noble gases and carbon dioxide. The concentration of these gases is determined by the atmospheric pressure which is determined by the weather and is reduced at altitude.


Unfortunately, the variations in this pressure are ignored in general medical practice. Atmospheric pressure is accorded the unit 1 to represent atmospheric pressure absolute (1 ATA) and this unit is divided according to the percentages of the gases in the air to give their ‘partial pressures’ that is the part of the total pressure each gas is responsible for – oxygen, therefore, being 0.21 ata (21% of 1) and nitrogen 0.78 ata (78% of 1).


A hyperbaric chamber is needed to allow the pressure around the body to be increased. The technology is very well established, in fact, all commercial aircraft are hyperbaric chambers equipped with oxygen breathing systems.

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How Does Oxygen Therapy Work?

HBOT is a simple, non-invasive, and painless treatment that most patients find comfortable and relaxing. You will be treated in a secure and comfortable purpose-built chamber with a trained operator present to operate the barochamber. In certain circumstances, the attendant will accompany clients into the chamber. There has been no recorded case of a patient suffering either a heart attack or a stroke undergoing hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and oxygen under hyperbaric conditions can be used as a treatment of both conditions.

On entering the chamber clients can use a chair or, alternatively, they may sit on the floor. It is recommended that you wear comfortable clothing and leave any jewelry or watches outside. No smoking materials, matches or lighters are allowed in the chamber.

The treatment session is conducted in three phases:

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Air Compressor

Once the door is closed, there will be some noise as the pressure increases. It will get warmer and you will feel fullness in your ears similar to when descending in an aeroplane. You will have been taught how to avoid discomfort by clearing or ‘equalising’ your ears. As soon as the chamber pressure increases, you will need to start making your ears ‘pop’. There are several ways to do this and the chamber attendant will find the best way that suits you. Some people find that swallowing is sufficient. If you develop any discomfort inform the attendant and the rate of compression will be reduced. There may be a few unusual noises but this is normal as the chamber ‘descends’.


On reaching the desired pressure (usually 1.5 to 2.0 ata) the client places a mask over the head and breathes oxygen for the duration of the session. The treatment begins when the pressure reaches the prescribed level. You may then rest, sleep, read or watch television if your chamber is equipped with one. The mask can be removed occasionally and the chamber can be decompressed at any time if necessary. (2).png
Happy Farmer

After the prescribed amount of time has elapsed the attendant will let you know when the treatment is complete and the pressure will be lowered slowly, at a rate that is comfortable. A session usually lasts just over an hour and can be repeated daily. If a patient is receiving two treatments a day the second treatment follows the first after a three to four hour break outside the chamber. A patient receiving one treatment per day will spend about two hours at the treatment centre.

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