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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for Severe Anemia

Anemic patients suffer from huge oxygen debt that arises in different circumstances. Some of the main causes for anemia include acute blood loss that could be a result of an injury, heightened destruction of red blood cells as well and reduced synthesis of the same. Acute hemorrhage as a result of trauma surgery or postpartum complications is among the most common forms of acute blood loss. Some of the individuals who are most affected by anemia are those who cannot receive blood transfusions for various reasons such as religious beliefs or medical constraints. Jehovah’s Witnesses are amongst the most popular religious groups known for denouncing blood transfusions. Severe anemia could lead to multiple organ dysfunction and ultimately failure if it is not checked on time.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) allows for the dissolution of more oxygen in blood plasma which also translates to more oxygenated blood reaching all body tissues. Vital organs which are also highly affected by anemia can receive ample oxygen as well. HBOT also boosts the concentration of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Restoration of red blood cells to the required levels plays a key role in curbing anemia. The body’s metabolic demands are met since enough oxygenated blood is being supplied. Upon administration of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO), oxygen supplied into the tissues is greater than that extracted from the tissues.

HBOT is preferred since it is a cost-intensive treatment method for anemia, with minimal to zero side effects. Administration of hyperbaric oxygen halts acute blood loss quite fast compared to other forms of treatment. The injuries and wounds causing the acute blood loss can heal faster as well. Patients who have gone through acute blood loss post impressive results after 48 hours of exposure to HBOT. HBOT triggers an increase in the production of red blood cells which trickles down to the reversal of the vasoconstriction effects related to anemia. Most individuals who receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment go through 1-3 sessions daily. Moving forward, adjustments are made based on the body’s response to the treatment. Improving the plasma arterial oxygen content has the effect of getting rid of the signs and symptoms of anemia of whichever etiology/kind. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is also coupled with other forms of treatment to increase their effectiveness. Coupling it up with blood transfusion enables fast recovery for individuals with acute anemia caused by excessive loss. HBOT also comes in handy for those who suffer from various complications such as hemolysis or antibody formation after undergoing a blood transfusion. Such bloodless strategies are most preferred for the treatment of anemia and where blood loss is not an option.


Greensmith, J. E. (2000). Hyperbaric oxygen reverses organ dysfunction in severe anemia. Anesthesiology, 93(4), 1149–1152.

McLoughlin, P. L., Cope, T. M., & Harrison, J. C. (1999). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the management of severe acute anaemia in a jehovah’s witness. Anaesthesia, 54(9), 891–895.



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