Autism is emerging as a common health disorder in people worldwide, especially in children. It is a developmental disability that can create serious problems related to repetitive behaviors, social communication, restricted behaviors, interaction, and more. People diagnosed with autism generally have a distinct way of playing, paying attention, learning, moving, communicating, etc.
While there are conventional treatment methods, people are now looking for alternative treatment options that are less invasive yet effective. It is where the role of hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT comes into the picture.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment wherein the patient is given higher levels of pure oxygen under a raised atmospheric pressure. It takes place inside a specialized chamber, and a trained professional monitors the patient throughout the session. If you are wondering if HBOT for autism is a safe option, this article will answer all your questions. So ensure you read until the end.
HBOT: Things You Must Know
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an advanced and non-invasive medical treatment wherein patients breathe pure oxygen under an increased atmospheric pressure inside a specialized chamber known as the hyperbaric chamber.
Once patients sit in a hyperbaric chamber, they inhale 24% to 100% more oxygen. The pressure inside the chamber is approximately three times higher than the normal pressure present in our surroundings.
Such high levels of atmospheric pressure increase the oxygen solubility in your bloodstream. It even accelerates the rate of oxygen-dependent body functions like moving, breathing, heartbeat, and more. With HBOT, oxygen molecules penetrate deeper into your body tissues and organs, enhancing natural healing. In most cases, the supplied oxygen gets approximately 400% deeper inside the body tissues, cells, and organs. Initially, deep-sea divers suffering from decompression got treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
But from 2004, healthcare professionals started using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat autism. HBOT for autism is effective because it has helped patients alleviate autism symptoms. Besides autism, hyperbaric oxygen therapy also helps treat the following conditions:
- Cerebral palsy
- Arterial gas embolism
- Bone infections
- Wound healing
- Severe carbon monoxide poisoning
- Athletic injuries
- Multiple sclerosis
- Traumatic brain injuries
Doctors can also use HBOT to treat other health conditions, depending on the feasibility of the treatment plan. But the benefits are obtained only upon undergoing the required sessions in the correct and appropriate environment.
How Does HBOT Help Treat Autism?
Now that you have a decent understanding of HBOT, it’s time you learn how this treatment helps treat autism. When the patient undergoes the required number of HBOT sessions, they experience the following benefits.
1. Reduced Neuroinflammation
Neuroinflammation is a common inflammatory response generated within your spinal cord or brain. It is also one of the leading underlying causes of autism. It is a condition where blood flow to the brain is inadequate, causing cognitive disabilities.
Ignoring it can lead to cerebral hypoperfusion. According to numerous research studies, supplying extra oxygen through hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help reduce cerebral inflammation.
2. Improved Mitochondria Dysfunction
Autism patients, especially children, suffer from mitochondrial weakness. It often leads to low energy, which slows down the overall thinking capabilities and affects other bodily functions. Proper HBOT sessions can help enhance mitochondria function, improving the autism symptoms like fine motor skills and balance.
3. Improved Behavior
Hyperbaric therapy has helped significantly improve cognition and movement in autistic patients, especially children. Patients who complete the treatment course can notice improvements in terms of reduced problem behavior, enhanced spontaneous communication, better skill acquisition, and more.
4. Other General Health Benefits of HBOT
Besides helping autistic patients improve their mitochondria dysfunction, reduce neuroinflammation, and improve behavior, the therapy also helps decrease seizure activities and strengthens the immune system. It can also reduce gut inflammation, increase the detoxification rate of heavy metals, heal intestinal lining to repair leaky gut, and enhance glutathione production. HBOT even impairs anaerobic gut microbe colonies present in the body.
5. Reduces Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress refers to the imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals inside the body. It leads to severe inflammation that can damage brain tissues. Oxidative stress can also cause numerous clinical symptoms of autism and reduce metabolism.
When a patient takes HBOT for autism, the production of antioxidant enzymes improves. These enzymes protect cells from oxidative stress, improving mood, social interactions, and memory.
These are some health benefits autism patients can experience after undergoing the minimum recommended sessions.
Is HBOT Effective in Treating Autism?
Numerous clinical trials to determine HBOT’s usefulness have generated mixed responses. Although medical specialists are still deciding whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy is fully effective in treating autism, several past patients have reported positive outcomes.
According to many patients, HBOT for autism helped them enhance their focus and attention, develop a stronger family connection, improve sleep, improve cognition, and enhance communication. Few patients became calmer and more affectionate after the treatment and experienced fewer sensory issues.
Should You Proceed with HBOT for Autism Treatment?
While some researchers believe there is little empirical evidence of HBOT’s effectiveness in treating autism, numerous patients have only positive things to share. Finding promising results in many patients who have undergone HBOT treatment is not uncommon.
You can continue with the hyperbaric treatment for autism if your doctor feels it is appropriate. Whatever little side effects one may encounter during the treatment will be short-lived. In general, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be considered effective in treating autism.