Diabetes develops due to high blood sugar levels, and the regulation of blood sugar and insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are closely intertwined. If there is dysfunction in pancreatic cells leading to reduced insulin secretion, glucose in the bloodstream cannot be effectively utilized or transported to the body's cells, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can enhance metabolism, which can contribute to improved substance metabolism and, to some extent, lower blood sugar levels.
Diabetic foot is one of the most severe chronic complications of diabetes. It is primarily caused by elevated blood glucose levels, which lead to increased blood viscosity, peripheral neuropathy, and vascular changes. These factors reduce blood flow to the lower limbs, resulting in severe oxygen and nutrient deprivation to the feet.
Prolonged exposure to low oxygen levels can lead to the proliferation of bacterial toxins, potentially causing foot ulcers. HBOT can increase tissue oxygen levels by raising oxygen partial pressure, facilitating oxygen delivery to oxygen-deprived tissues in the extremities. This can enhance the oxygen supply to the ulcerated areas, promote blood circulation, increase oxygen concentration, and ultimately facilitate wound healing. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy machine can also improve blood viscosity and the speed of blood flow in the arteries of the lower extremities.
In severe cases, prolonged exposure to low oxygen levels can lead to tissue necrosis, which often requires amputation. HBOT can assist by suppressing the growth and proliferation of anaerobic bacteria, thereby limiting the extent of necrosis and reducing the need for amputation.
In summary, HBOT is particularly applicable to the wound-healing process in diabetic foot ulcers. Oxygen can expedite the healing of exposed wounds. Since the feet are relatively distant from the brain, HBOT can efficiently deliver oxygen to oxygen-deprived tissues in the extremities, reducing symptoms associated with diabetic foot complications. HBOT can also repair damaged nerves, enhance the bactericidal capacity of white blood cells, boost the body's immune function, increase oxygen levels in the blood and tissues, enhance insulin sensitivity, and help individuals with diabetes avoid prolonged periods of high blood sugar.
Increased Blood Oxygen Levels: HBOT involves the administration of pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which leads to a significant increase in blood oxygen levels. This elevated oxygen concentration helps supply more oxygen to tissues, including those in the extremities affected by diabetes. Improved oxygen delivery can alleviate tissue ischemia (inadequate blood supply) and hypoxia (insufficient oxygen), both of which are common in diabetic complications like foot ulcers.
Reduced Blood Viscosity: HBOT can reduce the viscosity (thickness) of the blood. When blood is less viscous, it flows more freely through blood vessels, enhancing circulation. Improved circulation is crucial for delivering oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissues in the feet, which is essential for the healing process.
Enhanced Immune Response: HBOT has been shown to boost the immune system's response. It can increase the bactericidal (bacteria-killing) capabilities of white blood cells, helping to control infections in diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic individuals are often more susceptible to infections, so this effect is particularly beneficial.
Neurological Benefits: HBOT can improve the conduction speed of sensory and motor nerves in individuals with diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). It can also assist in repairing damaged nerves, reducing sensory impairments, and enhancing tissue sensitivity to insulin. These neurological improvements can have a positive impact on diabetic patients' overall health.
Improved Oxygen Supply: HBOT increases oxygen tension in damaged tissues, promoting wound healing. It helps correct tissue hypoxia, which can be especially important in treating neuropathic changes in peripheral nerves.
Inhibition of Anaerobic Bacteria: Anaerobic bacteria thrive in low-oxygen environments. HBOT can inhibit the growth and toxin production of anaerobic bacteria. By doing so, it can limit tissue damage and the extent of necrosis (cell death) in cases where diabetic complications have advanced to severe stages, potentially reducing the need for amputation.
Promotion of Collateral Circulation: HBOT can stimulate the development of collateral circulation, which is the formation of alternative blood vessels that can bypass blocked or damaged vessels. This can be particularly beneficial for treating diabetic complications like peripheral vascular disease.
In summary, hyperbaric oxygen therapy offers multiple therapeutic benefits for diabetic complications, including improved oxygen supply, reduced blood viscosity, enhanced immune responses, and neurological improvements. These effects contribute to better outcomes in treating conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers and neuropathy, ultimately improving the quality of life for individuals with diabetes.
Here's a summary of the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) on various aspects of diabetes:
Blood Sugar Levels: Research suggests that HBOT can improve the metabolism of fats and amino acids in tissues. It increases the number and function of insulin receptors on target cell membranes, correcting receptor defects. This enhances cell sensitivity to insulin and can suppress the effects of high blood sugar and growth hormones, leading to increased glucose consumption and a reduction in blood sugar levels.
Diabetic Foot Ulcers: Diabetic foot (DF) is a common and severe complication of diabetes characterized by vascular and neurological damage, leading to tissue destruction and ulcers in the feet. HBOT has several advantages in promoting healing in diabetic foot ulcers:
- It promotes angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), a crucial factor in wound healing, by creating a local tissue oxygen concentration gradient. This enhances the synthesis of fibroblast cells and collagen.
- Higher tissue oxygen levels increase the activity and rapidity of superoxide dismutase, which boosts the tissue's antimicrobial and antibacterial capabilities, aiding in tissue healing.
- HBOT has a synergistic effect with antibiotics, enhancing local immune and anti-inflammatory responses.
- Increased tissue oxygenation leads to vasoconstriction, reducing tissue fluid production and promoting fluid reabsorption into the blood, ultimately improving circulation in the limbs and prognosis.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: In diabetic patients, prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels disrupts normal cellular metabolism. HBOT can help reduce platelet aggregation, decrease blood viscosity, and effectively improve microcirculation, preventing axonal degeneration in nerve cells. By consuming a significant amount of glucose and generating ATP, HBOT ensures normal cellular function, promotes axonal and fiber regeneration, and facilitates nerve repair, leading to some improvement in diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Kidney Function: Research indicates that HBOT can significantly improve kidney secretion and excretion functions. HBOT's effect on microcirculation has been reported, and it has shown promising results in repairing microvascular damage. As part of the systemic microcirculation, the kidney may benefit from increased tissue oxygen tension under HBOT conditions. This could lead to increased oxygen saturation in blood hemoglobin and higher plasma dissolved oxygen levels, ultimately improving tissue oxygen content. In addition, HBOT may reduce vWF (von Willebrand factor), breaking the vicious cycle of microcirculation disorders and accelerating microcirculation recovery. These factors contribute to improved renal microcirculation and kidney function.
Other Effects: HBOT may also have a positive impact on other diabetes-related conditions, such as diabetic cardiomyopathy, diabetic gastroparesis, and diabetic neurogenic bladder symptoms.
HBOT is primarily used for wound healing in diabetic foot ulcers. It accelerates the healing process by delivering oxygen more efficiently to the exposed wounds. Since the feet are relatively far from the brain, HBOT helps transport oxygen to the oxygen-deprived tissues in the extremities, reducing symptoms in the feet. Additionally, HBOT can repair damaged nerves, enhance white blood cell bactericidal capabilities, improve the body's immune function, increase blood oxygen levels, address insulin deficiency, enhance lower limb arterial blood flow, and prevent prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
In summary, HBOT soft chamber offers a range of therapeutic benefits for individuals with diabetic foot ulcers and related complications, contributing to improved wound healing and overall health outcomes.