Autism is a spectrum disorder that impacts patients differently but generally causes developmental issues. Early diagnosis is crucial to helping patients and family members get the necessary help. With proper treatment, patients on the spectrum can live happy and fulfilling lives. There are a variety of treatments available for autism, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Learn more about HBOT and find out how this alternative autism treatment works.
Background on Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) impacts 1 in 44 children in the U.S. This disorder can be caused by various factors, including genetic and environmental. Symptoms cover a broad range and include challenges with social interactions, speech, nonverbal communication, repetitive behavior, and more. As a spectrum disorder, each instance is unique, so there is no standard approach to treating autism. Treatments typically include pharmaceutical, behavioral therapy, and dietary therapy. Generally, these treatment methods require time and consistency, and the results can vary significantly from one individual to the next.
Associated Health Conditions
Research has shown that people with autism are more likely to have a variety of accompanying medical conditions. In addition to working through their autism symptoms, it also becomes necessary to treat any accompanying medical issues. Some of the most common accompanying medical problems include anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, gastrointestinal issues, and more.
Patients with autism can benefit from treatments specifically intended for ASD, but additional therapies for associated medical conditions may also be necessary. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is proving to be an effective treatment for autism that can potentially help reduce symptoms of accompanying medical issues as well.
What is HBOT?
HBOT or hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an FDA-approved treatment that started as a way to treat decompression sickness but is now used to treat a wide array of health conditions. The treatment provides patients with high-pressure oxygen. Patients lay down in a pressurized tube filled with pure oxygen. The patient simply relaxes and breathes normally. Sessions usually last for 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the treatment. Patients can use the time to relax, watch TV, listen to music, or take a nap.
While the patient is resting, their oxygen levels increase, which can lead to a variety of health benefits. High oxygen levels in the body stimulate healing and immune response by increasing the body’s production of white blood cells and reducing inflammation. Increased oxygen levels can cause anaerobic bacteria to die off for a natural and effective infection remedy. The benefits of hyperbaric oxygen treatment increase with time as the body becomes more accustomed to increased oxygen levels.
How HBOT Can Help Autistic Patients
HBOT has been used as an alternative autism treatment, and it has shown positive results. How exactly HBOT helps autism is not entirely understood at this time. Some of the conditions thought to contribute to the autism symptoms include:
- Cerebral hypoperfusion
- Immune dysregulation
- Oxidative stress
- Mitochondrial dysfunction
Saturating the blood with high levels of oxygen reduces inflammation and increases blood circulation to the brain, and it is believed that this plays a role in effectively treating autism. Studies have shown children with autism experience improvements in cognitive performance, memory, verbalizations, speech, and social interactions after undergoing treatment. Teenage patients report improvements in self-help skills and the ability to learn new skills.
More work is being done to better understand just how HBOT helps autism patients. Still, studies have shown that both children and adults with autism experience a reduction in symptoms after undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Learn more and find out if this alternative autism treatment is a good option for you by reaching out.