Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, can be an effective treatment option for patients with anemia. HBOT is a therapy that involves the patient lying in a pressurized chamber filled with 100% oxygen. While the patient breathes, the oxygen can enter the bloodstream and reach oxygen-starved tissues. Because anemia is a condition characterized by insufficient oxygen in the tissues, HBOT can help ease symptoms while physicians work to treat the root cause.
What Is Anemia?
Anemia is a condition caused by not having enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues. Red blood cells use hemoglobin to carry oxygen, so without enough red blood cells, there isn’t enough hemoglobin to distribute oxygen. Red blood cell deficiency can have a few causes, such as not having enough iron or being born with a hereditary condition. There are a few different types of anemia, including:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Sickle cell anemia
- Vitamin deficiency anemia
- Aplastic anemia
These different types of anemia all have similar symptoms but can require different treatment plans based on the cause of the anemia.
What Are the Symptoms of Anemia?
Not having enough oxygen delivered to your tissues can cause various unpleasant symptoms and can lead to larger health issues. If left untreated, anemia can permanently damage the blood vessels, muscles, or tissues. Symptoms that patients with anemia often experience include:
- Irregular heartbeats
- Altered mental status
- Cold hands and feet
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Brittle nails
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
You may have anemia if you have some or all of these symptoms. Speak to your doctor if you have not already.
What Are the Treatment Options for Anemia?
The treatment for anemia depends on the type of anemia the patient has. For instance, if a patient has anemia due to iron deficiency, their provider may prescribe iron supplements. For anemia caused by a lack of Vitamin B12, the doctor can prescribe B12 supplements or recommend a diet change. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has also been used to treat anemia successfully.
How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help Treat Anemia?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment option for all types of anemia because it helps introduce more oxygen into the bloodstream – something many anemic patients can benefit from. HBOT can help ease or erase symptoms while physicians determine the cause of the anemia and begin to treat it. The extra oxygen can also help heal and protect any oxygen-starved tissues. HBOT can help treat mild to severe cases of anemia and is even considered a go-to treatment for sickle cell anemia because of its past successes.
Is Using HBOT for Anemia Approved by the FDA?
Yes, the FDA has approved hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat anemia. While individual results may vary from patient to patient, HBOT has been proven to be an effective treatment option.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The amount of HBOT sessions should be determined on an individual basis. At Aalto Hyperbaric, our sessions last from 60-120 minutes. A medical practitioner will also help determine the amount of time you should spend in the hyperbaric chamber. Generally, we do 1-2 treatments for acute conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning and can prescribe a minimum of 30 treatments for chronic conditions. The effects of HBOT can differ for every patient, so a physician will help you determine how many sessions you should start with. It may take multiple treatments before you can see or experience the benefits.
How Do I Prepare for an HBOT Session?
HBOT is a painless, non-invasive, and safe treatment option for anemia. If you have decided to try HBOT to help treat your anemia, we recommend you do a few things before your treatment at Aalto Hyperbaric. Before coming in for a hyperbaric therapy session, you should:
- Avoid tobacco for the duration of your treatment. Tobacco can interfere with your body’s ability to transfer oxygen.
- Shower and avoid wearing perfume and deodorant during your treatment. Leave your jewelry or other cosmetic items at home as well. Keeping your body as natural and clean as possible is ideal before starting your treatment.
- Avoid carbonated beverages and alcohol for four weeks before your treatment. Any other measures to keep your body healthy before your treatment could also be helpful.
- Reschedule if you have a cold, flu, or fever. These sicknesses can get in the way of treatment.
- Avoid certain medications. HBOT can affect certain medications. Speak with a physician about your medications and which ones you should avoid taking before HBOT.
What To Expect During My Treatment?
We do everything in our power to make sure you are comfortable during your hyperbaric oxygen therapy session. We have some of the most comfortable chambers, and we use single-person chambers so you can have privacy.
When you arrive, our technicians will help you get comfortable before sliding you into the hyperbaric chamber. This chamber is tube-like and looks similar to an MRI machine. When you are ready, the chamber will begin to pressurize. The pressure will increase to two or three times that of normal air pressure. This increased pressure allows your body to take in more oxygen than it could at normal pressure. If the pressure is uncomfortable, you can pop your ears the way you usually do when you experience this feeling. Our technicians are always close by in case you need any help. During your session, you can relax while you breathe in 100% oxygen. Aalto Hyperbaric also has movie screens above our chambers that you are welcome to use. You may feel tired or lightheaded when your treatment is done, but this shouldn’t last long.
Treat Anemia With Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
If you have anemia and are suffering from its symptoms, ask your doctor about getting a prescription for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Receiving HBOT from Aalto Hyperbaric Medical Group can help address your symptoms and give your tissues the oxygen they have been missing. HBOT can help you feel better and help prevent long-term damage from oxygen deprivation.