2am Ramblings on Hyperbaric Medicine

I’ve just been doing some totally random reading online about something called hyperbaric oxygen therapy. You know how it is these days; stumbling onto topics that have pretty much zero connection to anything going on in your life and somehow getting sucked into reading a bunch of info about them. Anyway, I’m going to regurgitate what I just  read so that you, reader, can enjoy a similar experience.

Hyperbaric therapy in Australia is pretty well established as a medical treatment for the decompression sickness sometimes suffered by scuba divers. It involves the patient going into a sort of tank or chamber in which they breath air with a higher oxygen content than is standard in our environment. This can be 100% oxygen, although I think milder versions might also be a thing.

In Melbourne, hyperbaric medicine is used in hospital settings to treat things like necrotising soft tissue infections and certain cases of non-healing wounds (like from diabetes or radiotherapy), as well as decompression sickness. Some people online have some pretty wild stories to tell about how it’s helped with things like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and developmental delays, and even reversed brain damage. These reports aren’t scientifically supported at this stage, but there’s quite a lot of them about, which makes it hard to write them off. 

The chambers through which the treatment is delivered are even available as portable systems for home use, which means that people who could benefit from ongoing therapy can have relatively affordable access to it. I guess I feel like, if people have gone to the trouble of figuring out how to construct a portable version of this thing, there must really be something to it. I can’t imagine anyone being motivated to explore it that thoroughly if there wasn’t.

Anyway, like I said, I don’t really have any use for a hyperbaric chamber, portable or otherwise, in my life at this point (and I hope this continues to be the case, given the list of conditions they’re said to be able to treat). Even so, it’s got me thinking in new ways about the role of oxygen in the body.

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