Hyperbaric Therapy for Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss. The female reproductive tract may be affected as well. Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO) therapy has been used with some success to treat perianal Crohn’s disease.
HBO therapy administers 100 percent oxygen at a controlled pressure. Patients are placed in a hyperbaric chamber where the pressure is gradually increased. The session usually lasts an hour.
HBO therapy works by forcing oxygen into tissues, thereby increasing oxygen content in the red blood cells. This, in turn, promotes healing of damaged tissues, according to the Henry Spink Foundation.
Inflammation is the main culprit in Crohn’s disease. Increasing oxygen intake in the bloodstream also promotes blood flow. Increased blood flow brings more nutrients to inflamed areas, reducing inflammation in the process.
Perianal Crohn’s Disease
Perianal involvement in Crohn’s disease is common, where the tissues around the anus are affected. According to PubMed, patients with perianal Crohn’s disease who are not responding to traditional medications (local medication, salicylates, corticosteroids) responded well to HBO therapy.
HBO therapy should not be used in place of traditional treatment but as an adjunct. The Henry Spink Foundation adds that side effects such as ear discomfort, blocked sinuses or temporary changes in vision may occur with HBO therapy. It is also not recommended for patients with lung abnormality.