Hyperbaric Therapy – The Most Effective Treatment to Combat Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a growing concern that can lead one to death. In this article, you will explore how hyperbaric therapy helps you deal with CO poisoning.

Blessing and curse of modernity is a burning topic of debate nowadays. It is true that modernity has made our life smoother and easier. But, it has posed some great challenges to us. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of these challenges. It is caused by a dangerous colorless and odorless gas, known as carbon monoxide. This gas is released by cars, trucks, and other transports, wood stoves, and other non-electric heaters etc.

Carbon monoxide has been regarded as a silent killer. Do you know the reason? When CO is exposed to the normal air that you inhale, it displaces the oxygen contained by the bloodstream. Carbon monoxide combustion can take place when your heater's combustion system gets malfunctioned, and it leaks CO. This incident can claim one's life as well. During the winter, we keep our windows closed for most of the time. Therefore, there is a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from combustion fumes in the wintry days. A study has revealed that almost 40,000 patients visit emergency department every year in the United States to treat CO poisoning.

Symptoms of CO Poisoning

  • Headache


  • Dizziness


  • Weakness


  • Nausea


  • Vomiting


  • Chest pain


How Does It Affect?

Carbon monoxide toxicity is the main reason behind carbon monoxide poisoning or CO poisoning. How does CO poisoning harm our body? Let's find out:

  • CO has almost 210 times greater affinity for hemoglobin than O2.


  • It creates cellular hypoxia by preventing the hemoglobin-rich oxygen enter the tissues.


  • CO also leads to endothelial oxidative injury, lipid peroxidation, and inflammatory cascades.


How to Treat Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious issue that should be treated without any delay. It may lead one to the loss of consciousness, even to death. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT is the most effective treatment to deal with CO poisoning. U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA has approved hyperbaric therapy to treat CO poisoning.

Why Is Hyperbaric Therapy Required to Combat CO Poisoning?

CO poisoning can cause long-term damages, including a breakdown of the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. A patient can be treated without hyperbaric treatment, but HBOT can reduce the risks of brain damage and nervous breakdown.

How does It Work?

HBOT reduces the amount of CO present in the blood to make the oxygen level normal. For HBOT, the injured patient is taken on a stretcher that is slithered into an acrylic tube (approx 2.1 m long and 64 cm across ). Gradually, the pressure inside the tube is increased, and 100% pure oxygen is supplied under a high pressure, higher than the sea level. This process continues for 60-90 minutes. At the end, the hyperbaric chamber is depressurized slowly.

How many times should a patient be provided with hyperbaric therapy? How long should be each session? All these things depend on certain issues such as:

  • The amount of CO present in the bloodstream


  • Severity of the symptoms


  • Age of the patient


  • Existing health issues like heart or brain diseases


  • Exceptional situations like exposure to CO during pregnancy


How Will the Patient Feel after the Treatment?

Once the patient starts hyperbaric therapy, he/she will feel better within a couple of days. In some rare cases, where the problem is long-term and quite complicated, it may take a long time to recover.

A Final Takeaway

Every day the grip of carbon monoxide is getting stronger. That is why countless people are affected by CO poisoning every day worldwide. Hyperbaric therapy improves the memory, attention, and energy level. FDA's approval of HBOT has made it more popular and reliable. Today, almost all the people know about hyperbaric therapy and its benefits. Gone are those days when HBOT was known only as a treatment for decompression sickness. Nowadays, HBOT is used for a number of issues apart from CO poisoning, such as air or gas embolism, gas gangrene, crush injury, intracranial abscess, arterial insufficiencies, necrotizing soft tissue infections, osteomyelitis, radiation injury, grafts and flaps, and thermal burn injury etc.

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