Treating all Sicknesses: Hyperbaric Medicine

In today’s medical world it takes all kinds of equipment to treat the myriad of diseases and medical conditions that are out there. One often overlooked and underappreciated field in the health community is Hyperbaric Medicine.

What is Hyperbaric Medicine?

Hyperbaric Medicine uses a hyperbaric chamber to help patients heal. A hyperbaric chamber is a piece of equipment large enough to hold a patient. Once the patient is inside the chamber it is sealed and turned on. The chamber creates an alternative treatment environment for the patient by increasing the amount of pressure in the air. The machine increases air pressure to more than double what it is on the outside. While inside the patient breathes pure oxygen from an oxygen tank. The increased air pressure in combination with breathing pure oxygen serves to deliver considerably more oxygen to the patient’s organ and tissue.

Who needs hyperbaric medicine?

Hyperbaric medicine is mainly used to treat patients with two different kinds of medical conditions.

  • Non-healing Wounds- Sometimes the body is unable or takes too long to effectively heal a wound on its own. This can be due to factors such as poor circulation and even diabetes. When patients are suffering from a non-healing wound, they may be prescribed hyperbaric medicine. The hyperbaric chamber allows increased amounts of oxygen to be delivered to the tissue in the body via the blood supply. Delivering increased amounts of oxygen to a wound can help the wound heal, despite the fact that the patient’s body may be unable to effectively heal on its own.
  • Decompression Sickness- As divers descend to the depths, the pressure around them changes. As the pressure increases, the body begins to store nitrogen–which we take in along with oxygen with every breath–in its tissue. As the diver ascends, the nitrogen is usually transferred from the tissue, to the lungs and then exhaled. If the diver ascends too quickly, the nitrogen fails to be released through this process and collects in bubbles in the diver’s tissue. These oxygen bubbles can cause trouble for nerves, arteries and veins. They also cause body and joint pain, which is commonly referred to as the bends and itching. Putting a patient into a hyperbaric chamber and delivering pure oxygen to their tissue shortly after they ascend too quickly can usually cure them. The pressure in the chamber simulates the water pressure and the body will generally expel the nitrogen with the pure oxygen as the patient exhales. If you ever feel that you might have acquired decompression sickness, seek immediate attention from a facility equipped to prescribe hyperbaric medicine, as time is a huge factor.

Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point is equipped with both a hyperbaric chamber and an experienced staff. The Hyperbaric Medicine Center is an Accredited Clinical Hyperbaric Medicine Facility from the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society. This means that our hospital is a go-to for any diver who has surfaced too quickly in the Tampa Bay area regardless of whether they are in Hudson, New Port Richey or St. Petersburg. For more information visit us online or call 1-888-741-5119 for a free physician referral.

National Institute of Health
Medical Dictionary

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