Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a growing problem that affects both children and adults. In the United States, close to two million people are suffering from this problem. Unfortunately, doctors are seeing more diagnoses throughout the last decade. This uncomfortable condition can impact a person’s life and even make it difficult to participate in some activities. If this sounds like you, continue reading to learn more about how hyperbaric oxygen therapy may help.
IBD is a term that is often used for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Some people confuse it with inflammatory bowel disease, but the difference is that inflammatory bowel disease is more of a functional disorder. When you have IBD, your GI tract walls are inflamed, which can lead to sores and even a narrowing of the lumen. Your GI tract is a kind of hollow tube, and the lumen of this GI tract is the center of the tube through which nutrients travel. The center becomes narrower when the walls of the tube are irritated and swollen.
Besides discomfort and pain, a person with IBD could also experience frequent trips to the bathroom, persistent rectal bleeding, fatigue, and weight loss. When IBD takes the form of ulcerative colitis, it remains in the large intestine (colon) and the rectum. When IBD takes the form of Crohn’s disease, it could mean patches of damaged tissue anywhere from the mouth through to the anus.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
While there is no known cure for IBD, there is hope. In particular, there is a non-surgical non-invasive treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Since the 1930s, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used to help countless men, women, and children without the need for drugs, surgery, or other medical procedures.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has cured problems like decompression sickness, known as “the bends,” and carbon monoxide poisoning. It has brought about the healing of injuries from radiation and other forms of trauma, stroke, burns, serious infections, air bubbles in their blood vessels, and wounds that were not healing otherwise.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is time-tested and safe. To receive this therapy, you do not need to stay overnight in a hospital, although it could be performed during a hospital stay. It usually takes just a couple of hours.
This treatment is an effective, sustainable option that increases the amount of oxygen in your blood. When treatment is repeated over time, the tissue heals, infections disappear, toxins are expelled, and the entire body regenerates.
How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Helps IBD
Under normal conditions, when you are breathing the air around you, only the hemoglobin found in the bloodstream carries oxygen. It then runs through your veins and eventually feeds your cells by traveling out of capillaries. During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the abundance of breathable oxygen causes oxygen to be absorbed beyond the hemoglobin. This results in compressed oxygen being dissolved and forced deep into your body’s tissues. Because of this deep tissue penetration, the wounds from your inflammatory bowel disease are healed from the inside out.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy also reduces swelling. This is because the damaged tissues have been losing blood vessels, and this has allowed fluids to leak in. The loss of blood vessels and the swelling caused by excess fluids have deprived your tissues of oxygen. Because the elevated pressure in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber has increased the oxygen going to your cells, they can regenerate. At the same time, blood flow is restored, and excess fluids are carried away.
This increase in blood flow aided by the new blood vessels generated will bring in new healing nutrients while stimulating cells to produce growth substances like endothelial growth factor. Ultimately, this will cause stem cells to proliferate, further healing and rebuilding the intestinal lining.
Another way hyperbaric oxygen therapy will help with your IBD is that it will prevent reperfusion injury. When blood supply normally returns to tissues that have been deprived of oxygen, a series of events take place inside the damaged cells that cause harmful oxygen radicals to be released. This is called reperfusion injury. This excess of oxygen radicals can further damage tissues while causing blood vessels to clump up and decrease blood flow in a vicious cycle of decay.
When hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases oxygen in the blood. An increase of oxygen radical scavengers are then released upon the oxygen radicals and removed. This increased oxygen also improves the ability of white blood cells to seek out harmful bacteria that are releasing toxins within the walls of the GI tract. Tissues with increased levels of oxygen can better resist infection.
What to Expect During Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Of course, you likely want to know what to expect during this treatment. First, you will be placed on a hospital gurney and lay inside a sealed glass compartment, known as the hyperbaric chamber. While in the compartment, you can see everything that is going on around you. In some cases, you might enter a sealed room instead of a compartment. If you are in a sealed room, there will likely be other patients receiving the therapy at the same time.
Whether you are in the glass compartment by yourself or in a sealed room with others, the atmospheric pressure is increased to one and one half to three times what it normally is. Not to worry, this is painless except for the possibility that your ears may pop, kind of like when you fly in an airplane. Also, instead of breathing air that is usually about 21% oxygen, you will be breathing pure oxygen.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Georgia
You don’t have to suffer with IBD. There are treatment options available that can help with the uncomfortable symptoms. Are you living with IBD and searching for a different treatment solution? If so, contact us at Hyperbaric Physicians of Georgia to learn more about how this therapy may be right for you.