Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a powerful treatment that can help aid in the healing process for a wide range of medical issues. But have you thought is oxygen therapy safe? Can hyperbaric chambers be dangerous?
Everyone is always on the lookout for something new and interesting therapies to improve health. While HBOT is generally considered safe, some people may experience adverse reactions to the treatment.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the seven most common HBOT side effects. Keep reading to learn more.
Table of contents
The sensation of being lightheaded, queasy, or unbalanced is dizziness. It affects the sense organs, particularly the eyes and ears, and can cause fainting in some people. Dizziness is a symptom of a variety of diseases, not a disease.
Too much oxygen may cause dizziness by dilating the blood vessels in your brain. This can lower the blood pressure and cause you to feel lightheaded or unsteady on your feet. It’s also possible that the increased air pressure in the hyperbaric chamber can cause this reaction.
It is one of the most common side effects of hyperbaric oxygen treatment. It usually goes away after the first few hyperbaric oxygen treatment but can persist in some cases. In very rare cases, HBOT can cause a severe form of vertigo called central vestibular syndrome. This syndrome can cause loss of balance, vomiting, and even seizures.
In most cases, dizziness is a minor side effect and can be easily managed. However, if it’s severe or persistent, please consult your doctor.
Other possible causes of dizziness include:
- Low blood pressure
- Taking medications
If you’re taking any medication that could cause dizziness, be sure to tell your hyperbaric technician before your treatment.
There are a few ways that you can avoid dizziness during hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything for two hours before your treatment.
- You should also avoid caffeine and alcohol, since they can make you feel lightheaded.
- It’s also important to avoid strenuous activity right before your treatment.
If you experience any dizziness or lightheadedness during your treatment, let your hyperbaric technician know. They may be able to adjust the pressure in the hyperbaric chamber to make you more comfortable.
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. It is a symptom everyone hates. You have surely experienced that nauseous feeling at one time or another — perhaps when reading a book in a passing vehicle, or maybe after eating something which didn’t agree with you.
It’s a common hyperbaric therapy side effects, and usually goes away once the therapy session is over. If you’re prone to motion sickness, you may be more likely to experience nausea during hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Other possible causes of nausea include:
- Hunger or dehydration
- Anxiety or stress
If you’re experiencing nausea during hyperbaric oxygen therapy, be sure to let your therapist know. They may be able to give you some tips on how to reduce the chances of nausea, or recommend an over-the-counter medication that can help.
To help prevent nausea, your doctor may recommend that you take an anti-nausea medication before your therapy session. You can also try to:
- Drink plenty of fluids before and during your therapy session.
- Eat light, bland foods before and during your therapy session.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Sit up straight and avoid slouching.
- Keep your head still.
If nausea persists, or you are unable to keep anything down, be sure to let your hyperbaric oxygen therapist know. They may need to adjust the therapy or give you a break.
Headaches are a pretty common ailment that almost everyone will have at some point in their lives. A headache is characterized by a discomfort in the head or face. This can be a pulsating, continuous, sharp, or dull sensation.
Headache is one of the most common hyperbaric oxygen therapy side effects. The pressure of the hyperbaric chamber may cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can lead to a headache.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can cause headaches in some people. The pressure of the hyperbaric chamber may cause your blood vessels to dilate, which can lead to a headache. If you experience a headache during or after hyperbaric oxygen therapy, let your doctor know.
Other possible causes of headaches include:
- Caffeine withdrawal
There are a few ways to avoid getting a headache during hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
- Drink plenty of water before and during your treatment. This will help keep you hydrated and reduce the likelihood of getting a headache.
- Avoid caffeine during your treatment. Caffeine can cause dehydration, which can lead to headaches.
- Try to relax during your pure oxygen treatment.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be a stressful experience, so it’s important to try and relax as much as possible. If you do get a headache during hyperbaric oxygen therapy, let your doctor know.
Fatigue is a persistent sense of exhaustion or weakness that might be physical, mental or a combination of the two. Anyone can be affected, and most adults will feel tired at some point in their lives. Fatigue is often caused by anemia, which can be a result of low iron levels.
Fatigue is one of the hyperbaric chamber therapy side effects. It’s important to listen to your body and take breaks when you need them. If you’re feeling especially tired, it’s best to rest before your next session.
Other possible causes of fatigue include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Poor nutrition
- An underlying medical condition such as anemia, diabetes or thyroid problems
- Certain medications
- Alcohol abuse
- Chronic stress
There are several ways to help avoid fatigue during hyperbaric oxygen therapy:
- Get enough sleep before your session. If you’re tired, it’s best to rest before your treatment.
- Eat a healthy diet and avoid sugary foods.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after your session.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before and during your session.
- Avoid working out strenuously before your session.
- Take breaks as needed. If you’re feeling tired, rest until you feel better.
If ever you feel like hyperbaric oxygen therapy is making you excessively tired, exhausted and weak this might be a hyperbaric oxygen warnings and immediately let your doctor know.
5. Sinus Congestion or Infection
Sinus congestion occurs when fluid becomes trapped in the sinuses, causing them to feel clogged and unpleasant. Sinus pain and pressure are caused by mucus buildup in the sinuses, which causes sinus congestion. A sinus headache, a stuffy or runny nose, and pressure across your cheeks or other parts of your face are all possible symptoms.
It is a common hyperbaric chamber therapy side effects to experience sinus congestion or infection. The pressure of hyperbaric oxygen therapy can cause fluid to build up in the sinuses, which may lead to an infection.
Other possible causes of sinus infections include:
- A deviated septum
- Exposure to irritants such as smoke or dust
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a sinus infection, such as pain, fever, or drainage from your nose, be sure to let your doctor know.
While hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help clear up sinus infections, some people may experience congestion or even an infection while undergoing treatment.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent sinus infections, such as:
- Wash your hands regularly and often, especially before you touch your face
- Avoid exposure to irritants such as smoke or dust
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids
- Use a humidifier in your home to keep the air moist
- Eliminate potential allergens by keeping your home clean and dust-free
- Talk to your doctor about medications that can help prevent sinus infections, such as nasal corticosteroids or antihistamines.
If you are prone to sinus infections, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may not be the best treatment option for you. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy before you begin treatment.
6. Ear Pressure or Pain
The sensation of fullness or stuffiness in the ear is referred to as ear pressure. It occurs when the ear’s eustachian tube becomes obstructed or ceases to function properly. The eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the nose and is a narrow tube.
You may experience muffled hearing, pain, or a popping sensation when you have ear pressure. Some people may also experience a feeling of fullness in their ears, a ringing sound (tinnitus), or vertigo (a sensation of spinning or moving).
Ear pain is a common side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The increased pressure in the chamber can cause pain in the ears, especially if you have a history of ear infections or other problems with your ears.
Other possible causes of sinus congestion or infection include:
- A cold or the flu
- Structural abnormalities in the nose or sinuses
- Polyps in the nose
- Nasal dryness
To avoid ear pressure or pain, you can try the following tips:
- Gently yawn or chew gum to open up the eustachian tubes.
- Pinch your nose shut and swallow several times.
- Take breaks during hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions to allow your ears to adjust.
If you experience any ear pain or pressure during hyperbaric oxygen therapy, be sure to let your doctor know. You may need to have your ears checked before or after treatment.
7. Pneumothorax or Pulmonary Barotrauma
A pneumothorax is a lung that has collapsed. When air seeps into the area between your lung and chest wall, it’s called a pneumothorax. Air pushes against the outside of your lung, causing it to collapse. A pneumothorax can be either a full lung collapse or a partial lung collapse.
Pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung, is a rare but potentially serious hyperbaric therapy side effects. The normal air pressure in the hyperbaric chamber can cause air to leak into the space between your lung and chest wall, causing the lung to collapse.
Other possible causes of a pneumothorax include:
- Chest trauma
- Lung cancer
- Chest pain
- Air or gas embolism
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heartbeat
- Coughing up blood
There are a few things you can do to help prevent a pneumothorax.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking damages the lungs and makes them more susceptible to injury.
- If you have lung disease, be sure to tell your hyperbaric oxygen therapist before starting treatment.
- Follow all of your hyperbaric oxygen therapist’s instructions during treatment.
If you develop a pneumothorax, your hyperbaric oxygen therapy will be stopped immediately. You will be given pure oxygen to help you breathe and may be hospitalized. Depending on the severity of your pneumothorax, you may need surgery.
While these side effects are relatively common, they typically aren’t severe and can be managed with ease. It may seem that some hyperbaric chambers can be dangerous but according to the hyperbaric medical society, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions, and the side effects are minimal in comparison to the benefits you can experience.
On the other hand, if you’d want to learn more about the advantages of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, watch this video below:
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While these side effects are relatively common, they typically aren’t severe and can be managed with ease.
It may seem that for some hyperbaric chambers can be dangerous but according to the hyperbaric medical society, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a safe and effective treatment for a variety of medical conditions, and the side effects are minimal in comparison to the benefits you can experience.
If you’re considering hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment option, please contact us at Oxygenark. We will be glad to assist you!