As with all therapies and treatments there are risks and potential side-effects that it’s important to be aware of.
High levels of oxygen may interfere with the working of certain medications.
You should discuss Oxygen Therapy with your medical consultant. The following medications are not permitted to have Oxygen Therapy: Doxorubicin, Cisplatin or Bleomycin.
Used to treat chronic alcoholism. Blocks superoxide dismutase which is protective against oxygen toxicity. Too much oxygen absorption can lead to central nervous system oxygen poisoning which can cause seizures, brief periods of rigidity followed by convulsions and unconsciousness. Pulmonary oxygen toxicity results in damage to the lungs, causing pain and difficulty breathing
A topical powder used in the management of bacterial infection, used in burn patients. This medication promotes CO2 retention and vasodilation when in the oxygen chamber and can cause impaired wound healing.
We are unable to provide Oxygen Therapy to children (those under the age of 18).
Being in a sealed, confined space throughout Oxygen Therapy may cause anxiety and panic
Disorder of the surface of the red blood cells. The red blood cells are a round rather than doughnut shape and the red blood cells are destroyed faster that they can be made. The pressure of Oxygen Therapy may damage the red cell wall, causing anaemia.
(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which includes Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema)
Oxygen Therapy may cause oxygen toxicity and a high carbon dioxide content in the blood (hypercapnia). This leads to drowsiness (narcosis), deranged acid-base balance due to respiratory acidosis, and death.
Anyone treated for Covid-19 in hospital who received oxygen/ventilation: Possible unknown long-term damage caused to lungs which may cause a pneumothorax when having Oxygen Therapy at pressure.
Lung Bullae where Oxygen Therapy is used may cause a pneumothorax (see Pneumothorax).
Oxygen Therapy may cause barotrauma to tympanic membrane. Encouraging fluid build-up or rupture (bursting) of the middle ear.
May lower seizure threshold. Not using Oxygen Therapy is for safety purposes, avoiding the risk of not being able to assist a person who is experiencing a seizure in a timely manner.
Difficulty cleaning ears. Oxygen Therapy may cause barotrauma to tympanic membrane. Encouraging fluid build-up or rupture (bursting) of the middle ear.
Oxygen therapy could potentially make symptoms worse.
Oxygen Therapy may cause an air embolism (air bubble) which is where air gets trapped in the blood vessels and causes a blockage in the blood circulation, which may lead to a tension pneumothorax where the air is then trapped in the lungs. Pneumomediastinum: this condition is where air builds up in the middle of the chest cavity which then pushes on the heart and the large blood vessels, so they cannot work properly.
Those who have a Pacemaker, Epidural Pain Pump, or Any Other Internally Fitted Device. This includes: coronary stent, cardiac implant, baclofen pump, breast implant, ear tube implant, eye lens implant, deep brain stimulation (DBS) implant. Possible malfunction or deformation of the device under pressure
Abnormal bone growth within the ears. Oxygen Therapy may cause barotrauma to tympanic membrane. Encouraging fluid build-up or rupture (bursting) of the middle ear.
Unknown effects on the foetus.
Uncontrolled Asthma (active, wheezy). May cause air trapping upon ascent in the chamber (pressure returning to normal) leading to a collapsed lung (see pneumothorax).
Risks and Potential Side-Effects
All therapies have potential side effects or risks associated with them. There are some risks associated with Oxygen Therapy however these are Extremely Rare, and we take great care to minimise any risk.
- Barotrauma: During pressure change you may experience discomfort in your ears, sinuses, or teeth (if you have fillings or cavities). Whenever a change of pressure occurs, there is the possibility of a small tear in the lung tissue and an escape of air into surrounding structures outside of the lungs (pneumothorax).
- It is important to NOTE slow depressurisation is followed as standard practice in all our sessions. This minimises the risk of barotrauma, as does breathing normally.
- Decompression illness: Anytime you enter a pressurised environment there is a possibility of decompression illness (DCI). Pressure causes nitrogen to go into solution in your blood and becomes absorbed in the tissues. You will be breathing oxygen for much of your therapy; therefore your nitrogen intake is extremely limited. Your therapy is designed to allow you to safely undergo oxygen therapy while minimising the risk of DCI.
- Fatigue: You may feel some fatigue following oxygen therapy, and/or during changes to your therapy protocol. This will resolve over time.
- Gas embolism: A gas embolism occurs by the expansion of respiratory gasses during a reduction in atmospheric pressure (ascent) which enters blood vessels. This risk is minimised through out controlled ascent rates.
- History of Seizures/Epilepsy: Oxygen Therapy may lower the seizure threshold.
- Levothyroxine: Treats hypothyroidism, low thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism weakens the respiratory muscles and decreases lung function.
- Numb fingers: You may notice a slight feeling of numbness in your fingers. This is a temporary condition which should subside within six to eight weeks after the cessation of your last therapy.
- Optic neuritis: There have been very occasional reports of oxygen therapy users with optic neuritis having deterioration in vision. Oxygen Therapy should be used with caution in this condition.
- Oxygen toxicity: Breathing oxygen at increased pressure, for extended periods can result in central nervous system oxygen toxicity or pulmonary oxygen toxicity. However, sessions at the Kent MS Therapy Centre are never longer than 60 minutes at the greatest pressure of 2ATA, so the risk is very low.
- Should you feel any unusual symptoms such as facial twitching, nausea, ringing of the ears, visual disturbances, or irritability – PLEASE NOTIFY the Oxygen Operator immediately. This is quickly and simply corrected by removing your mask or hood for a few minutes, or if it continues, we can remove you from the session.
- Pain: Some people (particularly those with Arthritis /Fibromyalgia) may experience intensification of pain during the therapy protocol. This will resolve over time.
- Participating in a Drug Trial: Due to unknown risk factor and effects of Oxygen Therapy, anyone participating in a drug trial will not be permitted in the oxygen therapy.
- Pseudoephedrine: A decongestant found in Sudafed. Effects blood pressure and heart rate.
- Risk of near sightedness (myopia): Undergoing over 20 oxygen therapy sessions can occasionally diminish the ability to see things that are far away. This is usually a TEMPORARY condition and is VERY RARE.
- Serous otitis: Fluid in the ears sometimes accumulates because of breathing high concentrations of oxygen. This may cause a muffled feeling in your ear.This usually disappears after Oxygen Therapy ceases.
- Steroids/Opiates & Antidepressants: There is a possible risk, but we have been unable to verify this. Please discuss with your GP before referring to Oxygen Therapy.
- Temporary improvement in far sightedness (Presbyopia): Undergoing over 20 sessions can occasionally provide an improvement in the ability to see things close by or to read without reading glasses. Vision should return to pre-therapy level approximately six weeks after the cessation of therapy.
You must never hold your breath during any part of your Oxygen Therapy.