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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Treatment Overview

The purpose of oxygen therapy for the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning is to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood and restore the oxygen level to normal as quickly as possible.

For hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), the affected person lies down on a stretcher. The stretcher slides into an acrylic tube about 7 ft (2.1 m) long and 25 in. (64 cm) across. The pressure inside the tube is raised, and 100% oxygen is delivered under high pressure. Each treatment session lasts about 90 minutes. After treatment, the chamber is depressurized slowly while the person rests inside.

It is not clear if HBOT works better than oxygen therapy at normal pressure to reduce the risk of cognitive problems, such as lasting damage to memory, attention, and concentration.

Why It Is Done

HBOT can prevent tissue death and promote healing. It's often used to treat conditions such as:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Decompression sickness from scuba diving.

It may also be used for:

  • Poorly healing wounds.
  • Some types of infection.
  • Burns.
  • Extreme blood loss.
  • Injuries that cut off the oxygen supply to muscles and other soft tissue.
  • Injuries from inhaling heat, smoke, or harmful chemicals.
  • Injury from radiation treatment.

Risks

Risks of HBOT may include ear pain and rupture of the eardrum. They may also include sinus pressure, a bloody nose, tooth pain, or changes to eyesight. Some people may feel anxious. In very rare cases, it can cause seizures or problems from too much oxygen.

Credits

Current as of: March 3, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology

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