Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has long been prescribed by researchers and medical practitioners to treat a range of ailments.
In the wake of COVID-19, a Louisiana based hospital has recently resorted to using hyperbaric oxygen chambers as an alternative to the ventilator.
History holds a witness to the application of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for a pandemic as large as COVID-19, way back in 1918 when Spanish flu wreaked havoc in the United States.
As coronavirus is known to affect the human respiratory systems at large, hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be a newfound treatment option for all patients.
A Ray of Hope
The high flow of oxygen across the hyperbaric chambers has shown promising results for patients suffering from breathing problems, one of the primary symptoms of the contagion.
However, such a treatment option is only being tried for patients who have fallen severely ill, and are showing significant signs of lung damage, following the transmission of the virus.
Knowing that there is still no vaccine or an antidote, medical researchers globally are frantically looking for ways to fight the virus. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an age-old way of supplying a rich flow of pure oxygen to treat cases of severe wounds, fractures, decompression sickness, and just about any form of injury that won’t weal owing to other underlying issues.
As red blood cells are the chief carriers of oxygen-rich blood, in the event of virus transmission or infection, they lose their capacity to do so.
Hyperbaric Chamber Therapy doesn’t need to rely on red blood cells to improve oxygen flow across the body. Once the patient is placed inside the chamber, it is pressurized with saturated oxygen which can be picked up by even the weakest respiratory system. Normally, a few sessions make the patient feel a lot better.
A Hypothesis You Can Bank On
Reportedly, no other country except for China has actually tried their hands on hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a primary hypothesis to treat COVID-19 cases.
The very first case was a patient who refused to show any signs of recovery to standard respiratory support. His condition was reversed with a total of eight sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy at around 200kPa.
This was followed by yet another case of a patient on a ventilator suffering from ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and was administered with five rounds of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Daily administration of hyperbaric treatments showed a sustainable level of improvement for a wide range of symptoms.
On average, three to five rounds of therapy made it possible for patients to get ride of hypoxemia and were subsequently released from the hospital within a few weeks.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy operates according to Henry’s Law in the following manner :
- It increases the dissolving power of oxygen right along the alveolar as well as inflammatory barriers.
- It enhances the diffusion distance for the oxygen.
- It improves the saturation of oxygen levels in hemoglobin across the red blood cells.
Thus, when administered a few times, it sets forth the downward spiral of symptoms of coronavirus.
Any new patient affected by coronavirus complaining of severe breathing problems is evaluated by the hyperbaric team at the hospital. It is to be noted that oxygen therapy is being used as part of off label measures which does require patient consent.
Signs of Fast Recovery
All those who have undergone hyperbaric oxygen therapy have shown faster signs of recovery. Some have also been discharged in a few days. The symptomatic relief brought by the therapy was almost immediate for any patient who was admitted with a slow respiratory rate.
The treatment option thus saves time and money and doesn’t require the hospital to place the patient on ventilators. As such, the ventilators can be used for patients suffering from other critical conditions.
Moreover, the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are long-lasting unlike any other form of treatment to date.
In a few cases, the ventilator treatment has actually done some damage to the lungs owing to the high pressure that’s generated there. Hence, the doctors are now looking at ventilators as the ultimate resort for acute corona affected individuals.
Additionally, medical practitioners have also urged one and all to develop healthy habits of eating and exercising. This includes eating food cooked at home, intake of less sugar to build immunity, and perform deep breathing at least five to six times over an hour to help strengthen the functioning of lungs. It was also advised to include lemon and zinc-rich food in your diet that imparts natural resistance to your body.
In case, a person shows symptoms of coronavirus, home quarantine is advised.
Also, if one is tested positive for COVID-19, it is requested that he or she should keep their plasma and donate the same to find a cure for this world epidemic.
By all means, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has turned out to be effective and beneficial for a range of serious ailments. Although the initial application of the therapy has been successful for coronavirus, it will take some time before it can be identified as an alternate form of treatment globally.
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