Hyperbaric Oxygen and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an interesting, safe, and effective therapy for a wide variety of ailments. The therapy consists of placing a patient in an actual physical chamber and filling it with 100% oxygen at 2-3 atmospheres of pressure. Patients usually stay in the chamber for 1- 8 hours depending on the condition being treated.
Although hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used for many conditions, including the treatment of stroke, cerebral palsy, and Lyme disease, perhaps the best evidence in the medical literature supporting its use is for the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning. When patients breath in large amounts of carbon monoxide it binds onto the hemoglobin molecule in the blood instead of oxygen. Hemoglobin is the molecule that is responsible for transporting the oxygen to the tissues and carrying away the carbon dioxide. Thus, in carbon monoxide poisoning the oxygen can not be transported to the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works because it can deliver a supranormal amount of oxygen to the hemoglobin molecule and can rapidly “knock off” the carbon monoxide from the hemoglobin, thus allowing oxygen to get to the tissues that maybe starved for it and dying.
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