Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers Aren't Cure-Alls, FDA Warns08/22/13
THURSDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Despite claims on some
websites, there is no evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy cures
or is an effective treatment for diseases such as cancer, autism,
diabetes or other diseases, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is approved by the FDA for certain
medical uses, including treating decompression sickness suffered by
divers, carbon monoxide poisoning and burns caused by heat or
But claims made by some treatment centers that hyperbaric oxygen
therapy can help with a wide range of health issues are misleading
and may put people's health at risk, according to the FDA.
"Patients may incorrectly believe that these devices have been proven safe and effective for uses not cleared by the FDA, which may cause them to delay or forgo proven medical therapies," Nayan Patel, a biomedical engineer in the FDA's anesthesiology devices branch, said Thursday in an agency news release. "In doing so, they may experience a lack of improvement and/or worsening of their existing conditions."
The safety and effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy has
not been established for the following diseases and conditions:
HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, Bell's palsy, brain
injuries, cerebral palsy, depression, heart disease, hepatitis,
migraines, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord
injuries, sports injuries and stroke.
The FDA has received 27 complaints from consumers and health
care professionals over the past three years about treatment
centers promoting the hyperbaric chamber for uses not approved by
the agency, Patel said.
Hyperbaric therapy involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized
chamber where atmospheric pressure is raised up to three times
higher than normal. In this way, the lungs can gather up to three
times more oxygen than possible by breathing oxygen at normal air
The therapy increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in the
blood, and an increase in blood oxygen helps tissues fight
infection or recover from injury, Patel said.
Patients receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy, however, are at
risk of mild injuries, such as sinus pain, ear pressure and painful
joints, or serious problems, such as paralysis and air embolisms,
which are dangerous bubbles in the bloodstream that obstruct
circulation. Since hyperbaric chambers are oxygen-rich
environments, a risk of fire also exists.
"If you're considering using [hyperbaric oxygen therapy], it's essential that you first discuss all possible options with your health care professional," Patel said. "Whatever treatment you're getting, you need to understand its benefits and risks. Your health care professional can help you determine which treatment is your best option."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
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