How Can Hyperbaric Therapy Help Treat Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

hyperbaric therapy

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a critical health ailment, which reduces the level of oxygen in the body, replaces oxygen with carbon monoxide, and causes fatalities. The disease has a high mortality rate due to the impact of carbon monoxide on our bodies.

Generally, to treat symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, medical professionals offer pure oxygen to the patient to help them breathe as much oxygen as possible and replace carbon monoxide in the body. When the patient is not able to breathe without help, they may be shifted to another treatment for improved oxygen intake.

One such method for improved oxygen intake is hyperbaric therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help the body receive more oxygen, which decreases the impact of carbon monoxide poisoning.

In the following sections, we have discussed how hyperbaric therapy can help in relieving severe symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Understanding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, which doesn’t leave a taste once inhaled. This gas enters the human body without leaving a sign. Let’s see how it impacts the human body:

When a person inhales a large amount of carbon monoxide gas, they start replacing the oxygen in the body. This gas decreases the supply of oxygen and fills our red blood cells with carbon monoxide, instead of oxygen. Hence, our organs and necessary body tissues receive carbon oxide in place of oxygen. This high dose of carbon monoxide gas leads to asphyxiation in the heart and brain. It means that our body is deprived of oxygen, which leads to health issues like cardiac arrest.

The major challenge in this health issue is that it is hard to identify. The symptoms include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Vertigo
  • Chest pain
  • Myocardial ischemia
  • Breathing issues
  • Neurological issues

These symptoms vary slightly in individuals, which makes it hard to acknowledge carbon monoxide poisoning in people.

Hyperbaric therapy can help in reducing the symptoms of CO poisoning; especially in pregnant women. When a pregnant woman inhales CO for a long time, it is necessary to remove CO from the body, heart, and brain, to save the fetus.

The therapy helps in accelerating treatment in this case by quickly eliminating CO and replacing it with oxygen. This method is appropriate because the time needed to remove CO from the mother’s body is less than the time needed to remove CO from the fetus. That poses an extra threat to the baby.

Here are the things considered by doctors before offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy to pregnant women:

  • The level of CO in the body
  • The health condition of the mother
  • Age of the mother
  • Medical history of the mother

In general, these factors are considered for any patient suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Understanding Hyperbaric Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a type of treatment in which a patient receives pure oxygen in a pressurized tube. For the treatment, the patient enters in a hyperbaric chamber or tube, where 100% oxygen is released. Due to the high pressure, the body of the patient starts carrying oxygen through other body fluids apart from red blood cells. So, this means that even lipids and plasma start transporting oxygen to the heart and brain.

One session is around 60-90 minutes, which helps in eliminating CO from the red blood cells. This is possible because as the patient intakes only oxygen, proper oxygen supply is regained in the body, offering the strength to eliminate carbon monoxide. Hence, in this manner hyperbaric therapy offers relief to patients affected by CO; if offered at the right time.

Fortunately, the FDA has cleared the HBOT treatment for a series of health issues, including CO poisoning. Here are some illnesses that HBOT can treat:

  • Gas gangrene
  • Decompression sickness
  • Gas embolism
  • Crush injury
  • Anemia or blood loss
  • Arterial insufficiencies
  • Infection in soft tissues
  • Radiation injury
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Burn injury

Impact of Hyperbaric Therapy on Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

When hyperbaric therapy is offered to patients with CO poisoning, they can recover in a few days. However, this is relative to the severity of the situation. If the condition is extremely complicated, then treatment may continue for multiple days or even weeks to completely eliminate the CO gas from the body.

The results are better achieved with HBOT than any other oxygen therapy.

Why Hyperbaric Therapy?

It is known that CO gas is released from various types of household appliances, such as boilers, gas generators, cookers, open fires, water heaters, and heating systems. When these appliances are not able to burn the fuel completely, CO is created. For instance, in an enclosed place where a car engine is driving, CO may be present in a high amount.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the best treatment that can help us treat CO poisoning quickly. Other methods may take some extra time, during which the fatality rate increases.


Carbon monoxide poisoning can commonly happen to various individuals, as the gas is released from various common appliances around us. Hyperbaric therapy can help us reduce the influence of carbon monoxide in our body, lungs, heart, and other organs rather quickly.

However, don’t try the treatment before consulting a doctor or medical expert. Only a medical professional can offer the right advice on whether you should receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy or not. Further, you may require guidance on the number of sessions that your body may require depending on the extent of carbon monoxide poisoning. Hence, consult a specialist before moving forward with hyperbaric therapy treatment.

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