Why do I need hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
The human body needs a steady supply of oxygen for everyday life. If you are ill or injured, you may need additional oxygen to heal properly. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy speeds up the healing process by increasing the amount of oxygen carried by your blood and plasma. Exactly how much additional oxygen you need may depend on your illness and other factors.
How exactly does hyperbaric oxygen therapy help?
The treatment increases the concentration of oxygen dissolved in the blood and plasma, which helps healing in areas of poor circulation, and new blood vessels can develop. Oxygen under pressure also reduces swelling, and it works like a bactericide, helping to reduce inflammation.
Do I have to stay in the hospital during the treatments?
Typically, the treatments are in an outpatient setting, although some of our facilities also treat inpatients who require hospitalization.
What do I have to do to get started?
Your physician has to refer you to our hyperbaric center. Our staff will initiate a full evaluation and work with your doctor to determine if you are a good candidate to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The hyperbaric center team will then will explain the treatment process to you and answer any questions you may have. You may be asked to show a photo ID, your insurance card, the referral or order from your doctor, and your list of medications to us.
Who is taking care of me once I start treatment?
We have a caring and professional staff of doctors, nurses, and certified technologists who are specially trained in the administration of hyperbaric medicine.
How often do I have to come for treatments?
Depending on the underlying reason for treatment (like a diabetic foot wound), and how well your body responds to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the hyperbaric physician and staff will be able to determine the number of treatments you will likely receive. Each session lasts about two hours, and most treatment plans require that you come in once a day, five days a week, for the duration of the therapy.
What should I expect during my visit?
Our hyperbaric center team will go over all details in advance, but here are a few points to get started: Before each treatment, you will change into hospital scrubs. Our staff will check your vital signs and blood sugar values if indicated. Our hyperbaric chambers are comfortable, and you will be able to communicate with our staff. Our team will let you know in detail what you will feel during the treatment – the pressure changes and air flow noises will be similar to being on an airplane. There will always be someone there to help and to answer questions. Your will be able to watch TV or a movie while you are in the chamber, or listen to music if you prefer.
Is my insurance going to cover the treatment?
Medicare and most other health insurance plans pay for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the approved indications. We will work with you, your referring physician and your insurance carrier to determine any financial issues prior to starting treatment.
I am diabetic. Is there anything special I need to do?
Our staff will work with you on an individual basis to determine the best approach regarding dietary considerations, medications including insulin (if applicable) and blood sugar monitoring. Your blood sugar level will also be tested before and after each treatment. You may notice that you feel hungry after a treatment, but with proper glucose checks, this should not be a problem.
Can I take a book into the chamber?
Most of our partner facilities use monoplace (single patient) chambers. For safety reasons, some things are not allowed inside the hyperbaric chamber. Our team will discuss your concerns with you, including special considerations if you have pacemakers, insulin pumps or pain patches, glasses or contact lenses. Multiplace (several patients) chambers may have somewhat different rules. A complete list of prohibited items will also be available at the hyperbaric center, but here are a few:
- Makeup or nail polish
- Perfume or Aftershave
- Hairspray/Hair oils, Wigs/Hairpieces
- Alcohol or petroleum-based products
- Cell phones or electronic devices like iPads
- Any metallic items (such as jewelry, titanium eyeglass frames, keys, watches, coins)
- Flammable materials or heat-producing items (heating pads, lighters, cigarettes)
- Hearing aids
- Food, gum or candy
- Books, magazines, newspapers or any paper products
What if I am not feeling well?
Please let our team know if you have a cold or cough or any symptoms of the flu, sore throat, chills, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. We may recommend to defer treatment until you feel better. Please notify the staff if there are any changes in your medications before you begin treatment.
Can my family come with me into the chamber room?
For privacy and confidentiality reasons, your family and friends may not enter the treatment room with you. Please discuss your situation with a hyperbaric team member if you have particular needs. Your family and friends can wait for you in a designated area in the hyperbaric center.