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Are There Side Effects to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

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Many people may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), particularly those with non-healing wounds, thermal burns, chronic pain, concussions, sudden hearing loss, and other conditions or disorders. But, like any medical treatment, potential side effects should be considered. Fortunately, with HBOT, there are only a few mild and temporary side effects.

Side effects from HBOT may include:

Ear and/or lung barotrauma (injury caused by heightened air pressure)

The main side effect reported with hyperbaric medicine is ear discomfort or injury to the increased air pressure. In most cases, this is similar to the pain or discomfort you may experience in a drive through the mountains or the cabin pressure you feel when flying in an airplane. Patients with more severe ear sensitivity may require ear tubes before HBOT treatments. This is something your provider will discuss with you prior to treatment.

Temporary changes in vision

Air pressure changes that occur during HBOT treatments can cause visual changes. These changes are temporary and typically revert to normal once therapy is ended. These changes can include changes in the shape of the eye lens, resulting in worsening myopia, or nearsightedness, but at the same time improves focus on objects near the eye.

Fatigue or Lightheadedness

You might feel weakness and fatigue following hyperbaric treatment. This is expected and should dissipate after a short rest. Talk with your prescribing doctor if these side effects persist or are affecting your quality of life. Your treatment plan may need to be revisited.

Low blood sugar

People with diabetes might experience a drop in blood sugar during treatment. In this case, glucose levels are monitored during the session to ensure safety. Eating before the treatment can help maintain blood sugar levels and curb post-treatment symptoms.

Although extremely rare, oxygen toxicity seizures and pressure injury to the lungs can occur in patients with underlying brain or lung disorders.   

Most side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, however, are minor and temporary. If they don't go away, or if they worsen, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

When to Use Caution

Certain medical conditions can increase the chance for possible side effects with HBOT treatment. If you have any of the following conditions, please bring them to the attention of your physician in your initial consultation.

  • Pneumothorax, unless treated with a Heimlich valve
  • Acute upper respiratory infection or sinusitis
  • Emphysema
  • Uncontrolled high fever
  • History of ear complications
  • Thoracic surgery or spontaneous pneumothorax
  • Seizure disorders


HBOT Under Medical Supervision

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.  


Schedule a Consultation Find out more about the conditions that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can benefit.


Hyperbaric Medical Solutions

Written by Hyperbaric Medical Solutions

Hyperbaric Medical Solutions is a free-standing, independent medical practice, providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). HBOT is an advanced healing therapy that treats conditions that benefit from increased oxygen concentration and absorption in the body....

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