As a safety measure, anyone suffering from the following health conditions must not use hyperbaric chambers:
- All problems related to the eardrum, including eardrum tearing;
- Acute nasal congestion;
- Blocked eustachian tubes (ear);
- Internal infection of the ear;
- Upper respiratory tract infections or chronic sinusitis;
- Seizure disorder;
- Acute headaches or flu/cold symptoms;
- Otitis or other ear related conditions;
- Cough or nasal congestion;
- Intense fever;
- Intense fatigue;
- Intense muscular pain;
- Chills or hot flash;
- Under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs;
- Diabetes Type 1.
There is currently only one absolute contraindication to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, namely untreated pneumothorax.
Placing a patient in a chamber and changing the pressure around them can result in a tension pneumothorax on ascent, which could quickly become life-threatening. Any patient with pneumothorax should have it treated (likely with some form of thoracostomy tube) before hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
CAUTION! As a safety measure, anyone taking following medications is required not to use hyperbaric chambers.
- Epival or Depakene
- Disulfiram (Antabuse)
- Citalopram or Celexa
- Doxorubicin hydrochloride (Adriamycin)
- All anticonvulsants
- Mafedine Acetate (Sulfamylon)
The effects of the chamber and pressure can decrease the efficacy of the medication listed above during treatment and for a period of 6 to 8 hours following the treatment.
CAUTION! Always consult your healthcare professional before initiating treatment. Respect and follow your healthcare professional’s recommendations before initiating treatment.
A significant and probable risk of otic barotrauma exists when there is imbalance of pressure in the tympanic membrane. This can lead to a ruptured eardrum.
Barotrauma can occur during compression and/or decompression phases of the hyperbaric chamber. It is therefore very important to raise or lower the pressure slowly in a linear fashion and ensure that pressure change remains comfortable.
The method below helps to overcome this discomfort:
The classic Valsalva manoeuvre to equalize pressure in the eardrums by closing the mouth and exhaling while pinching the nose (expiration effort forced to glottal closed for a few seconds).
It is important to only bring back the balance and not anticipate future pressure.
If you feel pain in the eustachian tubes (inner ear, side or throat) or ears, it is better to manually stabilize the pressure of the chamber and allow time to rebalance the pressure in the inner ear. If the pain persists, it is advisable to stop the
The steps of the Valsalva method in more details:
1) Close your mouth and gently exhale through your nose while pinching it close with your fingers (as if you wanted
to slowly blow your nose). It can be done while slightly tilting the head left and right;
2) Swallow your saliva;
4) Stretch your eustachian tubes (neck) and massage gently.
CAUTION! It is important to only balance the pressure!
Possible adverse effects and possible complications:
Fortunately, with HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy), there are only a few mild and temporary side effects. These may include:
- Ear and/or lung barotrauma (injury caused by heightened air pressure)
- Temporary changes in vision
- Low blood sugar
Although extremely rare, oxygen toxicity seizures and pressure injury to the lungs can occur in patients with underlying brain or lung disorders.
CAUTION! Most side effects HBOT are minor and temporary. If they don’t go away, or if they worsen, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Claustrophobia refers to the discomfort of the feeling of being trapped in the enclosed place. It is possible that a hyperbaric chamber treatment triggers the symptoms related to claustrophobia. They can manifest in varying degrees.
Nonetheless, it is very important to remain calm. If a treatment has to be stopped because the feeling of claustrophobia is too intense, one must still follow the depressurization procedure correctly.
Note: it is quite possible to decrease the feeling of claustrophobia associated with HBOT. It is a matter of going very gradually and staying under the supervision of an attentive and calm attendant.