Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBO) involves giving the body extra oxygen. 'Hyper' means increased and 'baric' relates to pressure. Oxygen is one of the gases in the air, and it is 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 situations where body tissues have been affected by a decrease in oxygen levels. These include:
- decompression illness ('the bends')
- severe carbon monoxide poisoning
- some infections, such as gangrene
- delayed wound healing after reconstructive surgery
- body tissue dying off after radiotherapy treatment (radiation necrosis)
- severe blood loss where a blood transfusion is not possible (for example, if you are a Jehovah's Witness)
- diabetic foot ulcers
- bone infections that have not responded to antibiotics
- crushed limb injury
- sudden hearing loss.