While oxygen is a part of our daily lives and is necessary for us to breathe, it can serve other purposes and benefit our health in different ways. Some people use hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to help improve a variety of health ailments, from wounds that won't heal to decompression sickness to radiation injury. HBOT has been touted as a way to improve various health conditions like headaches and diabetes, and there are even claims that it can benefit your skin and athletic performance. However, it's important to be aware of the facts surrounding the effectiveness of HBOT and its proper, intended uses.
How does it work?
The idea behind HBOT is that breathing nearly-pure, pressurized oxygen boosts the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, which can incite growth of new blood vessels, reduce swelling, fight bacteria and provide other positive effects. This can be beneficial for those with wounds that won't heal, serious infections and other severe medical conditions.
What is the process?
Oxygen therapy can be administered in multiple ways, but HBOT specifically involves lying in a sealed chamber for a specified amount of time to breathe pressurized, nearly-pure oxygen. In these chambers, your lungs can absorb around three times more oxygen than they would if you were breathing normal-pressure oxygen, according to the FDA.
What can it help with?
HBOT can benefit those who have experienced certain types of injuries due to radiation, diabetic wounds, skin grafts, burns, severe anemia, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, COPD and other breathing problems. While these are some of its official uses, people are turning to HBOT for other off-label uses.
Does it really have other uses?
While scientists are currently researching the effectiveness of HBOT on diseases like Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, there is no official consensus or FDA approval for its effectiveness regarding the treatment of these conditions. Additionally, the claims that oxygen therapy may help enhance your skin and provide a boost to your athletic performance, along with other superficial benefits, are also unfounded. Until the FDA approves these uses, and more research is conducted, oxygen therapy, particularly HBOT, should not be used for these other purposes.
While oxygen therapy may seem to be a quick and easy fix for a multitude of health problems, it's not proven to be effective at treating conditions other than those specifically approved by the FDA. Staying healthy should be your number one priority, and it's important to make sure you don't jump at the chance to try any seemingly-promising health fix without first knowing the facts.
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