Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Help With Dementia?

Millions of people worldwide are affected by dementia, which is devastating for patients and their families. Dementia is usually associated with the elderly, but it can affect people of all ages. There isn’t yet a cure for dementia, but studies indicate that hyperbaric oxygen treatment can slow down—and even reverse—memory loss.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

HBOT is a treatment that’s been around since the early 1600s. It’s typically used to treat decompression sickness, or “the bends,” which is a condition that affects scuba divers who rise too quickly from the ocean floor. Since its invention, HBOT has been used to treat various conditions with varying degrees of success. But now, scientists are using HBOT to treat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia affects an estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Dementia refers to a group of symptoms associated with memory loss, changes in concentration, and attention span. It’s characterized by impaired judgment, changes in personality, and trouble focusing and communicating.

Although dementia is most commonly associated with aging, it can affect anyone. Symptoms usually start mild and worsen over time as the brain deteriorates. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for fifty to seventy percent of all cases. Other causes include brain injury and infection. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment may at least slow down its progression or even reverse some of its symptoms.

Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Help With Dementia?

HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in an enclosed pressurized chamber. Oxygen flows into the bloodstream and tissues, and it works its magic on damaged cells. Over time, this treatment can help revitalize the brain and improve memory function, even in patients with severe dementia.

Hyperbaric Therapy Can Reduce Symptoms of Dementia

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treats many conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning, gangrene, and burns. HBOT is not yet routinely used to treat dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, hyperbaric therapy can help reduce symptoms and slow down memory loss in patients with dementia.

One Alzheimer’s patient spent 40 hours in a hyperbaric chamber for a month. By the end of the study, they showed significant improvement on several different tests designed to measure their mental abilities. The researchers noted that the positive results were evident at the start and after the trial. In another test, researchers discovered memory improvement in patients who received hyperbaric treatment than those who did not.

HBOT has also improved cognitive function in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. How HBOT helps patients with these conditions remains unclear. Researchers have concluded that hyperbaric oxygen therapy slows down the progression of dementia by increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain.

In summary, HBOT has been shown to do the following:

  • Improve memory function and cognitive function
  • Restore a sense of hope and meaning in life
  • Provide more energy
  • Help the patient feel more alert and motivated throughout the day
  • Stimulate areas of the brain responsible for attention and awareness

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Helps Brain Function

Every day, your brain uses a vast amount of energy to operate efficiently. Your brain also needs oxygen to function properly. When deprived of oxygen, brain cells die off due to a lack of energy. This process leads to the death of neurons. The death of neurons can cause cognitive issues such as memory loss, confusion, and difficulty speaking or performing other basic functions.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment provides an increased level of oxygen to patients’ brains. With increased oxygen supply to the brain, the patient will not suffer from neuron death or vitamin and mineral deficiency. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is an alternative approach that helps speed up the body’s healing processes. HBOT also boosts the repairing of damaged cells and tissues faster, such as those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Hyperbaric Treatment Repairs Damaged Tissues

Many people who have dementia have experienced trauma to the brain. Often, this trauma goes unnoticed until years later when it starts to manifest as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. HBOT can help repair damaged tissues by increasing oxygen levels in the body up to 15 times higher than normal levels. The treatment seems to help regenerate damaged nerve cells and restore brain function in patients who have dementia.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Can Prevent Cell Death

Researchers have found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can prevent apoptosis (cell death) in Alzheimer’s disease patients. One of the main causes of dementia is cell death in the brain. When brain cells die, it’s impossible to regenerate them as we do other tissues and organs in the body. Once cells in the brain die, they’re gone forever. However, treatments like hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help prevent cell death.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Reduces Brain Swelling

Brain swelling (or cerebral edema) is another factor that leads to memory loss and other symptoms of dementia. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to reduce cerebral edema in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy could help reduce brain swelling in those who have suffered TBIs. Brain swelling from TBIs often results in memory loss and cognitive problems that mimic dementia symptoms. The treatment works by decreasing inflammation in the brain and increasing blood flow to affected areas.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Helps the Brain Create Neurons

While some types of dementia may be caused by damage to existing brain cells, many are caused by the brain’s inability to create new neurons. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment helps restore the brain’s ability to create new neurons. In fact, in one study, patients who received HBOT showed an increase in newly created neurons in their brains.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Reduce Neuroinflammation

Neuroinflammation is a common cause of dementia. It occurs when inflammatory chemicals released by immune cells damage brain cells and disrupt memory function. It’s also linked with age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. By increasing the oxygen available in the blood, HBOT can reduce neuroinflammation and reduce or eliminate cognitive impairment associated with it.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Is Worth Trying

If your loved one is struggling with any form of dementia, HBOT could potentially offer relief from some of their most challenging symptoms. There are several hyperbaric centers, where you or your loved one can find help. This treatment is safe and painless. So, it’s worth considering as an alternative or complementary therapy for dementia.

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