Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBO) involves providing the body with extra oxygen. 'Hyper' means increased and 'baric' relates to pressure. Oxygen is one of the gases in the air, and it’s essential for life. Normally, oxygen makes up just over one fifth (21%) of air.
In HBO treatment, people breathe in pure (100%) oxygen. This is done by sitting in a chamber known as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and using a mask or hood.
What HBO treatment is used for
HBO treatment can help in a number of different situations where body tissues have suffered from a decrease in oxygen levels. These include:
- decompression illness ('the bends')
- severe carbon monoxide poisoning
- smoke inhalation
- chronic wounds and some infections
- wound healing after reconstructive surgery
- radiation necrosis (body tissue dying off after radiotherapy treatment)
- acute blood loss where a blood transfusion is not possible (for example, for Jehovah's Witnesses)
- sports injuries
- diabetic foot ulcers.