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Hyperbaric Oxygen: A Promising Treatment for Long COVID-19

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber at Hyperbaric Medical Solutions


It is estimated that approximately 50 million individuals are grappling with symptoms of long COVID. New research continues to be published showing how Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can benefit those struggling with Long COVID.

In the past four years, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 has swept around the world, infecting millions with a wide range of impact to the patient. While many patients recover completely from COVID-19 infections, some experience symptoms that may last months or even years after the initial infection.

It is now estimated that approximately 50 million individuals are currently grappling with symptoms of long COVID, leading to a notable decline in health-related quality of life. This number is continually rising.

These long COVID patients exhibit a combination of persistent symptoms, including fatigue, memory issues, brain fog, anxiety, sleep disruption, change in taste and smell sensation, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms can be debilitating and disruptive to people's daily lives.

New research continues to be published showing how Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can benefit those struggling with Long COVID, commonly known as "long haulers". This post summarizes the impacts of long COVID and the implications of the research.

What is Long COVID?

In the early days of the pandemic, research suggested that most people who contracted COVID-19 would experience illness and fully recover within a few weeks. However, a small percentage of patients continue to experience symptoms for months or years after first becoming ill. A 2021 study found that one in seven patients discharged from the hospital with COVID-19 still had symptoms after eight weeks.  A February, 2024 study suggests that Long COVID could be a result of a brain injury, helping to explain symptoms relating to brain fog and memory loss.

Symptoms of Long COVID:

  • fatigue
  • brain fog 
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • joint and/or muscle pain
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • headaches

These so-called "long haulers" often report debilitating fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, and a host of other symptoms that can make it difficult to return to their normal lives. Some people experience headaches, chest pain, and some long haulers have also experienced more severe problems such as heart inflammation and strokes. Because the symptoms often vary,  it can be difficult to diagnose Long COVID. However, if you have several of these symptoms that persist for more than several weeks, seek medical care. 


The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen in Treating Long COVID

Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy (HBO) has emerged as a treatment option for this condition. HBOT involves breathing 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber. During a hyperbaric treatment session, the combination of high oxygen and pressure increases the level of oxygen in the bloodstream and tissues, reducing inflammation and promoting healing and recovery.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy & Inflammation 

There are several mechanisms by which HBOT reduces inflammation. By increasing the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the plasma, HBOT stimulates the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and growth factors. HBOT can also increase the expression of anti-inflammatory genes, which can help to reduce the overall inflammatory response. 

The anti-inflammatory effects of HBOT has been shown to be effective in a variety of conditions, including autoimmune disorders and acute injuries. Given the role of inflammation in long COVID, HBOT may be a beneficial treatment option for long haulers.

Engage in a conversation with your doctor, as you navigate the path to recovery from Long COVID. Below you'll find some key factors to consider.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy & the Brain

New research suggests that Long COVID could be related to a viral-induced brain injury. HBOT is a highly effective modality for treating brain injuries, regardless of their cause. It not only addresses traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions but also shows promising evidence in the treatment of brain injuries caused by COVID-19.

The use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) to treat brain injuries in patients aims to relieve symptoms and accelerate recovery by promoting damaged tissue repair and angiogenesis, or blood vessel growth.

HBOT aids in the treatment of concussion and traumatic brain injuries in the following ways: 

  • Facilitates accelerated recovery & neurologic tissue regeneration
  • Reduces pain
  • Promotes healing
  • Creates new blood vessels
  • Stimulates stem cell mobilization
  • May reduce cognitive impairment


The Immune Systems Role in Long COVID 

The precise cause of long COVID is unknown and may vary between individuals. Symptoms are thought to be related to possible auto-immune disease, chronic inflammation, chronic oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, endothelial dysfunction, thrombotic (clotting) disease, tissue hypoxia (low oxygen), and direct brain invasion by the virus. In a recent study, patients with long COVID symptoms were compared to those who had experienced COVID infection but no evidence of lingering symptoms. The patients with Long COVID symptoms demonstrated elevated immune marker levels. The levels observed have been associated with acute, severe disease, suggesting that the long COVID symptoms are a result of delayed or defective resolution of inflammation.


Treatment Options for Long COVID 

There is no known cure for long COVID, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help ease symptoms. Common activities include: 

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Eat a balanced diet
  4. Get adequate sleep
  5. Participate in aerobic exercise

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Research on HBOT for Long COVID 

Recent studies have shown Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to be an effective, all-natural treatment to improve common Long Covid symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, pain, shortness of breath, and more. 

There are now 4 strong studies showcasing HBOTs efficacy in treating Long COVID:

1. A 2024 clinical review concludes that HBOT effectively addresses the pathophysiology of long COVID, and that it is a safe treatment and may provide benefit for this population. The clinical review details the mechanisms by which HBOT helps those suffering with symptoms of long COVID and includes the promos the synthesis of growth factors and mitigates post-ischemic and post-inflammatory responses, decreasing proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-α and elevating the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, increasing stem cell mobilization, and more.

2.  A study in Israel found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy was associated with improved symptoms and quality of life in a group of long COVID patients, with significant improvements in fatigue, brain fog, and shortness of breath

3. A larger study of 79 patients showed that participants who received forty hyperbaric oxygen treatment sessions had displayed beneficial changes in their cognition, fatigue levels, sleep, and pain patterns.

4. A 2023 study found that after receiving Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), participants exhibited reduced levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid peroxidation, DNA damage, nitric oxide (NO) metabolites, and inflammation biomarkers.

Oxygen under pressure can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing by increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy offers a promising treatment option for long haulers suffering post a COVID-19 infection.

Long COVID treatment at HMS

At Hyperbaric Medical Solutions we are treating many patients with long COVID and having success. In a recent survey, long COVID patients reported an 80% improvement in symptoms after just 5 HBOT treatments!

At Hyperbaric Medical Solutions, safety is our highest priority. To that end, every patient at our clinics is seen and cleared by a certified hyperbaric professional to ensure all potential contraindications are addressed prior to going into a hyperbaric chamber.  

Additionally, all patient treatment plans are individually prepared by a hyperbaric board-certified physician, and each session is closely supervised by hyperbaric certified medical staff and trained technicians.  

To ensure your safety, we strongly urge that you receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy under strict medical supervision. 

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Summary: Hyperbaric Oxygen for Long COVID 

It has become increasingly clear that not everyone who contracts COVID-19 will experience a mild illness and quick recovery. A small percentage of patients, known as "long haulers," continue to experience symptoms for months after becoming ill.  

Research provides evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could provide relief to some patients struggling with the long-term effects of COVID-19. 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is generally safe, with few risks associated with the procedure. Most people tolerate HBOT well and do not experience any serious side effects. However, it is important to be evaluated by a hyperbaric medicine specialist to see if HBOT is right for you, and any potential risks before starting treatment.  

If you or someone you know is a long hauler suffering from post COVID-19, talk to your medical providers about the potential benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 


1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29358697/ 

2 https://www.uhms.org/images/MiscDocs/Physiologic_and_biochemical_rationale_for_treating_UHM_48-1.pdf 



Written by Alan Katz, MD, FUHM, FACEP, FAAEM

Dr. Alan Katz, National Medical Director of Hyperbaric Medical Solutions (HMS), is double board certified in Emergency Medicine and Hyperbaric Medicine. He directs clinical operations, as well as education and research initiatives for HMS, particularly in exploring the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy....

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