As with any treatment, side effects are possible. They are, however, minimal. HBOT therapy has been proven to be extremely safe, and the actual number of side effects is very small.
The most common problem is trauma to the ears and sinuses caused by pressure changes. Usually the hyperbaric therapy providers teach you auto inflationary techniques to promote adequate clearing of the ears during treatment.
Decongestants may be helpful. This problem is temporary and resolves when HBO treatment is completed.
If you have ear pain or are unable to clear your ears, the insertion of myringotomy tubes or placing a small hole in the eardrum may be necessary before the hyperbaric oxygen treatment continues.
Other Hyperbaric Treatment Side Effects Are More Rare:
- Oxygen toxicity can cause CNS and pulmonary effects. Seizures occur rarely during treatment and are self-limiting. Seizures will cease when the patient is removed from breathing the pure oxygen.
- Factors such as history of seizures, high temperature, acidosis and low blood sugar are taken into account before hyperbaric oxygen treatment is begun
- Pulmonary oxygen toxicity may occur in patients who require supplemental oxygen between treatments. This is very rarely seen with the limited number of treatments currently used
- Some patients may suffer claustrophobia. This is managed by maintaining communication, use of relaxation techniques and mild sedation, if necessary.
- Rarely, patients develop temporary changes in eyesight; these are minor and occur only in those individuals who have large numbers of treatments. Vision usually returns to normal within eight weeks following the end of HBOT treatments.
- Patients with cataracts may experience accelerated maturation of the cataract, but the treatments do not cause cataract formation.