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HBO and Problem Wounds

Some wounds do not heal in response to standard treatment, or in the time expected. Wounds can be caused by many different problems, with diabetes being one of the common causes of wounds that are not healing. The term ‘chronic wound’ may be used – in medical terms this means a wound has been a persistent, long-term wound.

Problem wounds have not progressed through the different stages of wound healing. Often these wounds are low in oxygen. This means the body’s ability to heal or fight infection are affected. White blood cells, which fight infection, need oxygen to be able to kill bacteria. Some of the processes which re-build tissue, need oxygen to be able to progress.

During HBO, the area surrounding a chronic wound has high levels of oxygen, whilst the wound itself is low in oxygen.  This difference in oxygen levels encourages growth of small blood vessels into the wound. This in turn increases oxygen levels which helps the body’s own functions to fight infection and to re-build damaged tissue.

These processes all take time. A person having HBO to help heal a problem wound will usually have 20-40 HBO sessions, once per day, five days per week. Not much difference will be obvious for the first two weeks of treatment. Good wound care, proper foot wear and other factors such as good control of diabetes are also important in helping a wound heal.

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