We all use it. But why? Oxygen is an essential component of life as we know it, and it supports every single cell in your body.
At Sun Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, we understand that oxygen plays a powerful role in the human body. In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at this role and discuss how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to accelerate your body’s natural healing processes.
What is oxygen?
Oxygen is the eighth chemical element of the periodic table, represented by the symbol O. At room temperature, it is a colorless, odorless gas, and it is an essential life-supporting requirement for almost all animal life on Earth. (As far as we know, the only multicellular animals that can live without oxygen reside deep in the dense salt brine of the L’Atalante Basin in the Mediterranean Ocean, in some of the most hostile conditions for life on the planet.)
Oxygen is plentiful on Earth. It’s not just in our breathable air; you can also find it high up in the ozone layer of the planet’s stratosphere, inside the plastics we manufacture, and mixed into the water of our oceans. You can even find it in our rocks and soils — scientists estimate that about 50% of the Earth’s crust is made up of oxygen.
How and why do we breathe oxygen?
Oxygen is so vital to life because it makes the process of respiration possible. Every time you breathe, you use your respiratory system to bring oxygen into your body and flush carbon dioxide out of it.
When you take a breath, you are actually contracting your diaphragm to create more space in your chest cavity. Air, containing oxygen, is drawn in through your nose and mouth and down your trachea to fill the new space in your lungs. After oxygen reaches your lungs, it enters microscopic air sacs called alveoli. From there, it will diffuse through the alveoli walls and directly into your bloodstream, where is is ferried by the hemoglobin in your red blood cells to other cells throughout your body. There, the oxygen helps to transform sugars and fatty acids into usable energy. The waste gas produced by this process is carbon dioxide, which is then exhaled.
What’s in the air we breathe?
The air we breathe is actually only about 21% oxygen. Most of it (78%) is nitrogen, and the last 1% is comprised of argon, carbon dioxide, and other trace gases.
Unfortunately, global pollution problems are affecting the quality of the air in our atmosphere. A growing percentage of our breathable air consists of toxic pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and ground-level ozone. These carry real health risks, and fresh, clean air is vital to maintaining good health.
How does oxygen support health and healing?
The human body does not store oxygen. It’s used up by your cells almost as soon as it enters your body. Instead, respiration continually replenishes your supply of oxygen, ensuring that your cells receive the chemical tools they need to convert resources into usable energy.
The more active these internal processes are, the more oxygen they require. That’s why when you’re doing something very active, like running, you have to breathe harder and faster — you’re using up energy at a faster rate, and your cells need higher levels of oxygen to continue achieving their essential functions. The more oxygen they receive, the better they are able to perform.
This applies to the healing process as well. For example, any time you are scraped or cut, your blood cells will start to clump and clot around the wound to prevent blood loss. Once the wound is closed by a clot, your blood vessels open wider to allow more nutrients and oxygen into the wound to repair damage and build new tissue. Blood-borne oxygen is vital to healing.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy enhances your body’s natural healing processes.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment that increases your oxygen intake to allow your body to perform its natural healing processes at an enhanced level. It is commonly used to treat decompression sickness in divers, and it has also been approved by the FDA to treat a variety of other conditions. We’ve already gone over everything hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to treat in detail.
Hyperbaric therapy’s strength is in its simplicity. During a treatment, a patient enters a specialized hyperbaric chamber, where they breathe 100% pure oxygen under high pressure for 30 to 90 minutes. This allows their blood to be richly oxygenated and their vessels to open wider, carrying more essential healing resources to every corner of their body.
Sun Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale offers several functional wellness treatments, including colon hydrotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. If you want to learn more about how your body uses oxygen to support health and healing, or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us today. We are passionate about providing you with the essential resources to stay happy and healthy, and we always strive to ensure our patients are well-informed and receive the best possible care. Give us a call today!