HBOT a potential treatment for long-term COVID patients |
Dear doctors: I caught COVID-19, which wasn’t so bad. But now I have a long COVID. I’m exhausted all the time, my heart is racing and I have brain fog. It derails my life. I saw on the news that the method of dealing with divers with bends has been working for a long time COVID. Is it true? Can I see her?
Dear reader: As you may already know, the long term COVID-19 refers to the lingering symptoms that can follow infection with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. While the initial illness lasts two to six weeks – depending on severity – the symptoms of long COVID persist for months – even years.
The latest survey data shows that the long COVID is affecting at least 20% of people who have recovered from coronavirus infection. The chronic exhaustion you experience is a common symptom, as are a range of cognitive issues. It has become clear that the long COVID is pushing millions of people apart, and researchers are looking for treatments to ease the symptoms.
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Several studies have looked at the potential benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also known as HBOT. It’s when someone breathes pure oxygen into a pressurized chamber or room. You are correct that it is used to treat decompression sickness in divers, also known as bends. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is approved for a range of other uses, including carbon monoxide poisoning, wound healing, severe anemia, infectious diseases that deprive tissues of oxygen, and certain types of hearing loss sudden and unexplained.
The news stories that caught your attention report the results of the most recent study on HBOT as a potential treatment for people living with long COVID. Led by researchers in Israel, the study looked at a group of patients whose cognitive symptoms of long COVID had lasted at least three months. Half underwent 40 sessions of HBOT over the course of two months. They received varying exposures of 100% oxygen over the course of 90 minutes, delivered via a mask, while in a hyperbaric chamber with twice the atmospheric pressure of sea level.
The other group of patients served as a control group. They also spent 40 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber, but breathed regular air, and at regular pressure. At the end of the study, patients who received true hyperbaric oxygen therapy reported a marked improvement in cognitive functions. The therapy also had a positive effect on energy levels, sleep disturbances and mood. The same results were not observed in the control group. Although the results are encouraging, the research is still in its early stages.
At this time, HBOT is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of long COVID. It is also important to note that it is not suitable for everyone. A person who has a cold, fever, and certain lung, ear, and eye conditions should not have HBOT.