What to expect during your first Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatment
Read our patient’s story about their first hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment experience
It’s completely normal to be nervous before your first hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment. It’s hard to know what to expect, how treatment might feel, and how it might affect you afterward.
To help, we’d like to share the story of one of our patients, who kindly wrote about her experience undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the first time.
Hi, I’m Priscilla!
I contacted Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center because I’d heard that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help with a number of medical conditions. I called the office and talked through my needs with Jenifer, the Patient Care Coordinator. She was very patient with me and explained the benefits of the treatment, how it could help me and answered my questions regarding costs and insurance options.
I scheduled my first appointment and arranged my 30-minute risk assessment and orientation for around a week before my appointment date. To make things easier, the risk assessment and orientation can be carried out over the phone.
After finishing up with Jenifer, I received an email with a link giving me access to the online patient portal. There I could review my scheduled appointments, send a message to the team, and read and fill out my consent forms.
One week before my appointment
Gary, the Safety Director, called me at the arranged time for my risk assessment and orientation. He and the whole team are very focused on patient safety, as well as making sure you feel comfortable at all times during treatment.
Gary asked me lots of questions about my health and medical history. As the Safety Director, he prides himself on being very thorough to make sure the treatment will be as beneficial as possible to every patient.
This was my time to ask all the questions I had. Gary encouraged me to ask him anything at all that was on my mind before I began treatment – he told me there’s no such thing as a silly question! As trained hyperbaric technologists, Gary and the team abide by the Hippocratic oath so any discussions will always be in confidence.
Gary then ran through the important list of dos and don’ts when coming for treatment. For safety, you’re only permitted to enter the chamber wearing 100% cotton clothing. The only thing you can take inside with you is a bottle of water, which the team will provide for you.
Examples of things that are not permitted inside the chamber include:
- No lotions
- No makeup
- No deodorant
- No hairspray, hair products or hair extensions
- No fresh nail polish or acrylic nails
- No body piercings
- No glasses or hard contact lenses
- No cell phones or reading materials
There was a lot of information to take on board, but Gary explained everything very carefully and reminded me that I could also find a copy of all the information in my patient portal.
He told me that the main sensation that people experience during treatment is their ears popping, just like they do on an airplane. This is because of changes in the atmospheric pressure in the chamber, and it’s completely normal. He coached me on how to clear my ears during treatment, and to let them know immediately if I ever began to experience any discomfort or pain while in the chamber.
Gary told me that after the call the Medical Director, Dr. Zekirovski, would review my risk assessment to make sure I was a good candidate for treatment. Gary told me Dr. Z would also recommend and prescribe the number of treatments and what level of pressure should be used. In certain cases, Dr. Z will request additional information, X-rays or scans to ensure that it’s safe for the patient to begin treatment. In my case, I was good to go!
Before ending the call, Gary told me to feel free to call and ask any questions that popped into my head at any point before my appointment.
One day before my appointment
Allie, the Front Office Coordinator, called to confirm my appointment. She reminded me to eat a few hours before treatment and to keep hydrated throughout the day. I also received an email reminder with the option to confirm or reschedule.
The day of my appointment
Having reread the important safety information in my patient portal the night before, I arrived for my appointment fresh-faced and ready for my first treatment! I got there 15 minutes before my appointment time so I would have enough time to change and use the restroom.
Jenifer greeted me as I arrived then Gary escorted me into the chamber area. Jenifer asked what I wanted to watch on the TV during treatment so she could get it all set up ready for me.
Gary asked if I’d like to wear a cotton gown or two-piece pajamas for the treatment. I opted for the pajamas. He also gave me socks to keep my feet warm! Wipes are provided in the changing room in case you have any traces of makeup or deodorant that you need to remove. Once I had changed, used the restroom and stowed my belongings in a locker, I was ready to begin my first treatment.
I sat down on the bed and Gary gave me a blanket, pillows and a bottle of fruit-infused water to take inside the chamber with me – the flavor of the day was orange! He took my vitals (heart rate, blood pressure and temperature), checked my ears and answered any questions I had before entering the chamber.
I laid down on the bed and got comfy with my pillows and blanket. Gary gave me a special wristband as an extra safety precaution to discharge any static buildup, and I was good to go!
Gary pushed the bed inside the hyperbaric chamber and I could hear it seal behind me with a click. Gary told me via the built-in intercom to keep breathing normally and to swallow and take small sips of water to help clear my ears. He again told me to let him know about any discomfort, so he could help me or let me take a break if needed.
Because the chamber is made of clear acrylic, it actually felt more spacious once I was inside. Many patients, the team told me, don’t notice the acrylic at all! As the pressurization began, I started to feel some pressure, crackling and popping in my ears—just like when you’re taking off or landing in a airplane. I relaxed, watched the TV and followed Gary’s instructions to keep my ears clear with no issues.
After around 15 minutes, Gary told me I had successfully reached pressure. After this point, I didn’t feel any more changes in my ears so I was free to lie back and enjoy my movie! During the treatment I heard a couple of ‘pops’ in the chamber. Gary told me this happens because the chamber is expanding during the pressurization—nothing to be alarmed about!
After about 60 minutes, he notified me I was ready to ‘come back up’ from my dive. The depressurization was even easier and I barely noticed any changes in my ears.
Gary opened the chamber and pulled my bed out, took my vitals, checked my ears and asked how I was feeling. Everyone feels different after their first treatment: some people feel tired, while others are super energized. I was feeling great!
I changed and retrieved my belongings from my locker. As I left, I said goodbye to the team. Allie told me they would call me tomorrow to follow up, and reminded me that it’s important to keep hydrated after treatment.
The next day
I woke up feeling relaxed, after a great night’s sleep! As promised, Allie called me to see how I was doing.
Throughout my first hyperbaric experience I felt cared for and listened to. I also felt like I was in very safe hands from start to finish! I never felt rushed or uncomfortable, and everyone in the team was extremely friendly and ready to answer any questions I had.
Thank you to the team at Hyperbaric Healing for making my first hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment so easy and stress-free. I’m looking forward to the rest of my treatments there!
We hope that by sharing our patient’s experience you know what to expect before your first treatment. If you’d like any more information, feel free to reach out to us at any time.
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