What Conditions Can Be Treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing oxygen in a high-pressure chamber. It increases the amount of oxygen in the body carried by the blood to supply injured tissues—patients who have the HBOT sessions breathe around 100% oxygen while inside the chamber.
The dose of oxygen and recommended treatment depends on the person’s condition and how their body reacts to the sessions. In addition, HBOT can include risks and complications that doctors should inform their patients of before the treatment.
HBOT treats several ailments ranging from infections to air bubbles in blood vessels. Treatments of different medical conditions can also include surgical or medicinal causes affecting a person’s body.

What Are the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Indications?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treats many different medical conditions. The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society has identified fourteen medical ailments with successful clinical trials in treatments of HBOT. Some illnesses have been approved by the FDA, while some are still in trial.
The FDA approves the use of HBOT therapy for some illnesses such as:

Gas embolism

A gas embolism occurs when gas bubbles enter veins or even arteries. An arterial gas embolism (AGE) usually results from submarine escape training when someone rises after breathing compressed gas at deep depths. Another condition is a venous gas embolism (VGE), which occurs after compressed gas diving.

Brain abscess

Brain abscesses include cerebral abscess, subdural empyema, and epidural empyema disorders. Depending on the diagnosis, the hyperbaric treatment dose is usually around 2.0 to 2.5 atmospheres absolute at approximately 60 to 90 minutes per session.


Infections in burns are the leading cause of death in burn injuries. The goals of burn treatment are to provide quick healing, prevent scarring and pigmentation, and lower monetary costs.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

The two organ systems most likely to be injured are the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

Cyanide and carbon monoxide poisoning

Cyanide and carbon monoxide poisoning occur in people who inhale smoke from a fire.

Injury from crushing

Injury from crushing is a trauma caused to various body parts, leading to minor or severe limb damage. The injury may involve several tissues from the skin, muscles, and even the bones and joints.

Skin grafts and flaps

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is only necessary for skin grafts or flaps affected by exposure to radiation or not having enough oxygen in the tissue.

Sudden deafness

Sudden deafness is a hearing loss of 30 decibels that occurs over three days or three frequencies. Most patients experience sudden hearing loss, tinnitus, ear fullness or congestion, and vertigo.


Gangrene is an infection of the muscles. It usually is present in patients with complicated fractures that result in soft tissue injuries after accidents. The preferred treatment is usually HBOT therapy, surgery, and antibiotics in tandem.

Sudden vision loss

Sudden vision loss is a painless loss of vision and is usually permanent. It occurs in patients with inflammation of blood vessels, blood clots, and thickening or hardening of the arteries.

Necrotizing fasciitis

Necrotizing fasciitis is an infection of the soft tissues caused by flesh-eating bacteria.

Delayed radiation injury

Delayed radiation injury is one of the most studied and reported targets of hyperbaric oxygen treatment. However, the known causes of the condition are minimal.

Diabetically derived illnesses

Diabetic illnesses include foot ulcers, retinopathy, and nephropathy.

Decompression sickness

Decompression sickness involves gas bubbles in tissues or blood. It can lead to joint pain, skin rashes, peripheral or central nervous system dysfunction, choking, and, eventually, shock and death.

Severe anemia

Severe anemia is the loss of red blood cells usually caused by hemorrhage, hemolysis, or aplasia that affects how the blood carries oxygen.


Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone or bone marrow.

In addition, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may treat different conditions that the FDA has not yet approved. Different HBOT treatment centers may allow the treatment of such issues. Ailments the FDA has not approved are known as off-label conditions.

Off-label conditions may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Lyme disease
  • Migraine
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Crohn’s disease

New illnesses will be added to the approved list with time and research. However, using HBOT therapy for off-label conditions may not be covered by insurance. Contact a physician who will determine whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be an option for you.

Who Needs to Take Precautions Before HBOT?

If you are considering or have even decided to pursue HBOT therapy, you should take some necessary precautions. Before following the therapy treatment, ensure the healthcare providers are certified with trained medical staff.
The healthcare provider in charge of your sessions should have the proper Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society training. Also, ask to see a certificate that proves they completed the course before you agree to follow through with the treatments.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not recommended for everyone. Some people may have certain illnesses or conditions that HBOT can worsen or be at higher risk of complex issues. Those who suffer from the following should consult with a doctor:

  • Those with certain lung diseases may be at higher risk for lung collapse
  • People who have a cold or fever
  • Those who have recently undergone ear surgery or injury

When speaking to a medical professional, list any conditions you have that may put you in a higher-risk category. If you are not sure, ask your provider.


What Are the Complications of HBOT?

As with any treatment, a patient should be aware of the risks before proceeding. However, complications occur rarely, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy is mostly safe.

Some complications include:

Lung collapse

Air pressure changes usually cause lung collapse.


Seizures may result from getting too much oxygen in the central nervous system.

Middle ear injuries

Middle ear injuries include eardrum rupture and fluid leak from changing air pressure.

Temporary nearsightedness

Eye lens changes may cause temporary nearsightedness.

Lowered blood sugar

Lowered blood sugar occurs in patients who use insulin.


Claustrophobia is a fear of confined places. Because HBOT therapy is done by having the patient lie inside a closed chamber, those sensitive to tight areas should take caution.

In some cases of complications, patients may experience discomfort. Some people may also take short breaks to breathe normal air to prevent oxygen poisoning if needed. Don’t be afraid to ask more about other risks of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

What Are the Side Effects of HBOT?

Treatments of any kind will affect the body. Some can be more severe than others depending on the duration and how each person processes the treatment. 

The side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are worth noting. Some side effects are not as severe, while others can take a serious toll on the body. These include: 

  • Lung damage
  • Sinus damage
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness

Most side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are mild. However, sometimes, HBOT therapy can last for more than two hours, depending on the doses needed for each individual.
HBOT therapy sessions lasting longer than two hours will likely cause side effects. Furthermore, they will also happen if the pressure inside the hyperbaric oxygen chamber is more than three times the pressure in the atmosphere.

Don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider more questions about the possible side effects. They will consider any other medical conditions you have to help reduce the likelihood of experiencing side effects from the treatment.

Additional Read: Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Clinic: 9 Essential Factors to Consider When Selecting HBOT Clinic

The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Procedure

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an outpatient treatment. There are two different types of chambers.

  1. The first chamber is designed for single-person use. In the mono unit, you lie down on a table where you will be enclosed in a transparent chamber.
  2. The second type is an HBOT therapy room. In this chamber, multiple people are treated at once. Each person will have an oxygen mask or a transparent hood over their head. You can either sit or lie down for the treatment.

While in your therapy session, the air pressure will be around two or three times the normal air pressure. The feeling of fullness in your ears due to the increased air pressure will be temporary. Furthermore, health care staff will be in charge of monitoring you throughout the session.

The hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment results will be different for each patient. Some will need more than one session to be fully treated.

Treatment will be different for each patient depending on the medical condition and its severity level. Some treatments will even need a variety of other therapies and medication. Ask your medical provider for the correct information that best suits your needs.

Rely on NexGen Hyperbaric to Treat Your Medical Condition

NexGen Hyperbaric is one of the best options for HOBT therapy. With knowledgeable and respectful medical staff, NexGen Hyperbaric will answer your questions or concerns as best as possible.

Contact NexGen Hyperbaric today at 888-567-4302 to get a consultation for your condition and learn more about how hyperbaric oxygen therapy will help you.