All hyperbaric oxygen chambers used for hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment are pressurized containers. There are several different versions of these chambers, but all deliver more oxygen to the body at greater than 1 atmosphere of pressure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment has two main components. First, it is the administration of nearly 100% oxygen. Second, atmospheric pressure is brought higher than normal. These two factors create a unique environment. It drives oxygen into tissues and helps stimulate many key processes in the body.
According to the Society of Submarine and Hyperbaric Medicine, hyperbaric therapy must be performed at a minimum of 1.4 atmospheres absolute (ATA) in order to be therapeutic. 1 Therefore, mere immersion in 100% oxygen does not qualify for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The maximum pressure for safe hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment is 3 ATA. This level almost completely satisfies the tissue's resting requirements for oxygen supply. 2 That's why it can be such an excellent choice when the body is having trouble delivering oxygen through its normal pathways. During your treatment, your hyperbaric therapist will guide you in "taking the pressure". This includes comfortably pricking up your ears to help accommodate the stress. The experience is similar to driving a car on a high mountain or climbing in an airplane.
Treatment with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber lasts from 20 to 40 sessions per day. A session lasts approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. 3 During each treatment, the patient has several "air breaks", which increase the treatment time. When prompted by the therapist, they periodically breathed room air for several minutes. This helps reduce the risk of oxygen toxicity.
An important question to ask your hyperbaric oxygen doctor is how many sessions you typically need. For diabetic ulcers, typical courses of treatment range from 20 to 40 sessions, depending on clinical response. Rarely, patients with large wounds and bone infections may require as many as 60 treatments, but this is rare. Patients dealing with the late effects of radiation will have 20 to 40 treatments (usually 30 to 40 in most cases). In the unusual case where your doctor says you're expecting more than 40 treatments, especially if you're just starting treatment, it's good to know more. Of course, the specific situation of using the hyperbaric oxygen chamber should be understood in detail with your doctor.