Congratulations! You have decided to embark on your HBOT journey and want to know what will happen when you step foot into that hyperbaric oxygen chamber for the first time. Well, never fear because we at H.O.P.E. are here to help you prepare for your hyperbaric oxygen chamber sessions by providing you with all the tools and information you need to know in order to have a pleasant, successful treatment experience.
Before Your Treatment
In the HBOT chamber, patients are only allowed to wear clean (comfortable) cotton clothing. You will also be asked not to wear the following items into the chamber:
- Perfume or deodorant
- Jewelry or watches
Smoking materials, matches and lighters are strictly prohibited in the hyperbaric chambers for safety reasons. Don’t worry though – no matter what you see on television, pure oxygen is not flammable in the slightest and there is no risk of an explosion in an oxygen chamber.
Patients are also discouraged from drinking carbonated or caffeinated drinks or alcohol two hours prior to their treatment. If possible, it is recommended that patients give up smoking for the duration of their treatment as it restricts the body’s ability to transport oxygen. However, we understand that giving up smoking can be a physically and mentally difficult process, and instead encourage smokers to try not to smoke an hour or two before their treatment.
During Your Treatment
When you are ready for your treatment you will be helped onto a gurney and your vital signs will be taken by a staff member and wheeled into a clear acrylic hyperbaric chamber – each chamber is built to make patients feel comfortable and safe.
Once patients have entered the chamber, the treatment process is conducted in three different phases.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is conducted at pressures greater than what we experience at sea level, so in order to reach these pressures the oxygen chambers have to undergo compression. Once the chamber is closed you will start to feel slightly warmer as the pressure increases. The most noticeably aspect of compression is the feeling of fullness in your ears similar to what you experience when an airplane takes off or lands. Operators will have told you how to equalize the pressure in your ears usually by ‘popping’ them. Most people find that repeatedly swallowing works well, however if you are struggling to ‘pop’ your ears and experience any significant discomfort let the chamber operator know immediately and they will decrease the pressure.
The pressure in the oxygen chamber varies with each patient and is ordered by the Hyperbaric physician or the referring physician, but will always be above 1 atm. When the desired pressure is reached, patients spend the duration of their treatment breathing in pure oxygen. Because treatments usually last between 80-120 minutes depending on the diagnosis, patients have the opportunity to sleep, rest, or watch their favorite program or movie
Once the prescribed amount of time has passed the decompression process begins. Like compression, decompression happens slowly – your ears may feel strange again, but by this point you will know how to adjust them in order to equalize the pressure. Once the pressure inside the chamber equals the outside pressure an operator will open the chamber and assist you out.
At the end of the day HBOT is a pleasant, peaceful experience – if you have concerns about what to expect during your therapy session do not hesitate to contact us at H.O.P.E.