HBOT and COVID-19: Can hyperbaric oxygen therapy treat coronavirus?
Read the latest research findings and learn the opinion of our qualified hyperbaric team
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been many theories circulating about potential treatments.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is one of the medical treatments that many health experts believe could help to treat the symptoms of COVID-19.
Keep reading to learn more about the historical use of HBOT for respiratory conditions, some of the ongoing HBOT and COVID-19 research studies, and what our hyperbaric experts think about the situation.
Historical use of HBOT for respiratory conditions
During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, Dr. Orval Cunningham, chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Kansas University Medical School, became interested in hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Over the next several years, Dr. Cunningham used hyperbaric chambers to treat a variety of diseases, including respiratory conditions, diabetes, arthritis and syphilis. In 1928, he opened the largest hyperbaric chamber in the world in Cleveland, Ohio.
This “Hyperbaric Hotel” was a five story high steel sphere that was 64 feet in diameter. Each floor of this massive hyperbaric sphere had 12 bedrooms with hotel-style amenities for patients. The medical community, however, remained skeptical of Dr. Cunningham’s work with HBOT because he failed to substantiate his claims with clinical data.
Recent HBOT and COVID-19 findings
Two recently published articles in China explore the application of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.
In one recorded case, a severely ill patient had the course of the disease reversed with eight hyperbaric oxygen treatments at 200 kPa/95 minutes total treatment time. A second patient who was on a ventilator with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) recovered after five HBOT treatments.
The authors of the reports suggest that early application of HBOT in the disease process would prevent the health deterioration that causes the significant morbidity and mortality of COVID-19 infection.
Meanwhile, doctors at the University of Chicago Medical Center have been using a helmet to treat COVID-19 patients who are struggling to breathe. Functioning like a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the clear plastic FDA-approved helmet surrounds the patient’s head and pumps oxygen into their lungs at high pressure.
Elsewhere in the United States, Dr. Keith Van Meter, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Louisiana State University Health New Orleans, is part of a team who’ve launched a study using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help coronavirus patients.
“The attempt of the study is to show that you can catch a patient just before they’re starting to have extreme respiratory trouble and prevent them from having to go to the ICU and prevent them from having to be intubated,” said Dr. Van Meter.
Learn more about the latest research into HBOT and COVID-19:
Visit the ‘Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Respiratory Conditions’ section of our online Research Library.
Our thoughts on HBOT and COVID-19
We’re continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic and all of these ongoing research studies with great interest.
Above all else, patient safety is our top priority. Because hyperbaric treatment for COVID-19 is not yet deemed safe and effective by the CDC and health insurance companies, we will not be treating it at our facility as of now.
For the latest pandemic updates and information about our health and safety protocols, please visit our dedicated COVID-19 page.
Want to learn more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Contact us today to learn how HBOT can help you or your loved one.
Images: Amusing Planet
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