Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Case Study
Laura (40) has been a regular user of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber at Aqua-Tox throughout July and August following a long covid diagnosis. Laura was advised by her consultant to undertake hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) regularly to reduce the symptoms she was experiencing. Read about how Laura has found the treatment and how her symptoms have changed over the course of the treatment.
Laura, what brought you to Aqua-Tox for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
I had been feeling unwell for quite some time and knew that something wasn’t right in my body. I had been gradually feeling more fatigued, I had heart palpitations, brain fog and very low levels of concentration and I wasn’t sleeping well. I was beginning to struggle with basic things in daily life such as getting up and dressed, travelling to work, maintaining conversations, and having the energy to prepare meals. I have quite a high stress job that involves being on a lot of calls with people in different time zones and I was beginning to struggle to keep up with the demanding schedule of my role. I felt like I was existing and just working, eating and sleeping.
I saw my GP multiple times but kept being told that my symptoms were caused by stress or peri menopause. I knew this wasn’t the case and my symptoms were very gradually getting worse. I have had chronic fatigue in the past and knew how gradual and debilitating the symptoms could be. My recovery from this condition had taken a long time and I didn’t want to ignore the very similar symptoms I was experiencing. The heart palpitations were really concerning and were to the point that I would have to hold my chest when they were happening. I saw a cardiologist who completed an ecg and ultrasound and concluded that everything was structurally fine with my heart. Following this I contacted the consultant I had seen back when I had chronic fatigue as I trusted his experience and knew that my symptoms would be taken seriously.
The private consultant tested for a variety of things and also checked that my existing health conditions were not playing a part in how I felt. After numerous tests and an analysis of my symptoms I was diagnosed with long covid, also known as post viral fatigue. I had caught Covid twice with my last infection being in November 2022 but I had felt fine whilst I had the virus. The consultant confirmed that this can be the case and it is the impact of the virus after it is infectious that can cause the gradual health decline that I was experiencing. The consultant recommended 6-12 weeks off work and an intense course of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to allow my body to recover and repair from the fatigued state. This is what led me to Aqua-Tox.
How long do you think you had been suffering with long covid symptoms and what had you tried before hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
As I said I’d last had Covid in November 2022 and felt fine at the time. I had a number of winter colds and coughs in January and February and then started to feel a very gradual decline in my health and energy levels. It’s odd as it was such a gradual thing for me and you only really start to notice the huge impact it is having on your life after quite some time. I was resting as much as I could but with a bus work life it wasn’t enough. When I saw the consultant for my diagnosis in June 2023 he recommended I take an immediate 6-12 week break from work and start intense hyperbaric oxygen therapy as soon as possible. In addition to this I was advised to take b12 and folate to assist with the absorption of the b12.
Why did you choose Aqua-Tox over other clinics offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
I was offered medical grade hyperbaric therapy in Harley Street by the consultant and recommended a course of 10-20 hyperbaric treatments to be taken in close succession so daily or every 2-3 days. However, he did suggest that I find somewhere closer to home as the daily travel would be counterintuitive to the rest that I needed. It really wouldn’t have been logistically possible for me to commute in and out of London daily for treatment so I began the search for a local alternative.
I came across Aqua-Tox when someone I follow on Instagram shared 5 local businesses that they love. I had a little look and couldn’t believe it when I saw the hyperbaric chamber. It was just one of those moments where it feels like something is meant to be. With the brain fog and fatigue I was experiencing I was struggling to drive very far or follow directions to an unfamiliar place. Aqua-Tox was perfect because it was local enough for me to feel comfortable that I could get to and from treatment quickly and safely as often as I wanted to. The cost of the hyperbaric chamber sessions at Aqua-Tox was also far more affordable than the medical grade hyperbaric therapy I had been offered in Harley Street which was £240 per session.
How did you find your first experience in the hyperbaric chamber?
I found it quite different to what I had expected. Before starting my treatment course I’d popped in to see the chamber but didn’t try laying down in it because I didn’t see any reason too. It was spacious and had a clear top so I couldn’t imagine any issue with being inside. However, at my first session I did feel quite panicked and had to get out after only a few minutes. It was warmer than I expected, and I thought I would feel air. The team at Aqua-Tox were so understanding and helped me to feel cooler and calmer before getting back in. They gave me some shorts to change into and a hairband so I’d feel a bit cooler and less restricted. Once back in I managed a 60 minute session but felt that I counted down every minute, I knew that this therapy would make me feel better so I wasn’t prepared to let my head get the better of me. The girls at Aqua-Tox really made me feel reassured and I didn’t feel silly at how I’d reacted and knew that they would help me if I felt that way for my next treatments.
The second time I tried to go in with a calm mind and I knew more of what to expect. I also directed the air inlet pipe more towards my face so I could feel a very gentle air flow which really helped me to relax. I don’t know why but I had expected a physical feeling of air and this really helped me. The girls at Aqua-Tox kept checking on me throughout the session and even offered to sit with me and chat through the intercom system if it helped me feel better which I really appreciated.
How has this changed since you’ve been using the chamber more regularly?
How I felt had changed a lot by the third time I used the chamber. I felt more comfortable to try different positions and found I preferred lying on my tummy rather than on my back. I felt calmer going in and enjoyed the 60 minutes to myself to watch Netflix or scroll through the news. I’m now on my second course of treatment and have increased my sessions to 90 minutes. I don’t find this a problem at all, I no longer feel warm in the chamber and sometimes even take the blanket in get cosier. I’ve even found myself not always watching or listening to anything and simply enjoying the quiet rested time to myself.
When did you first start to notice a change in how you felt? Which symptoms do you think were the first to be helped?
The biggest change I noticed was the brain fog lifting and my ability to concentrate coming back. I’m quite a cautious person so I didn’t want to believe it until I knew for sure that I felt a real change in case it was a placebo. However, I definitely felt that I had a lot less fogginess and I could concentrate better than I had done for quite a while.
I’ve also noticed a big change in how out of breath I’m getting. At times I had been struggling to even climb the stairs or go for a light walk without becoming breathless, but I’ve really started to notice this improving. I’ve read a lot of research about the long term impacts Covid-19 has on the circulatory system and how HBOT assists the body to push around more oxygen in the blood plasma. So I’m quite confident that the improvement I’m feeling is down to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Have you been doing anything else alongside using the chamber to help you to feel better?
No, just the regular hyperbaric chamber sessions and as much rest as possible. I’ve taken 6 weeks off work to focus fully on my health and getting back to where I want to be. I’m trying to listen to my body and working with my energy. Sometimes after coming out of the chamber I just really need to rest, other times I’ll feel energised but I need to be careful as even if I feel ok to do more it will often still hit me later in the day.
My consultant has said not to do any exercise and only take slow walks if I feel like it. Anything of big exertion would cause me to crash afterwards and hinder my recovery. This is the cycle of exhaustion that I’m trying to break and heal from so I need to be very conscious of ensuring I rest as much as possible.
Would you recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy to others suffering with similar symptoms?
Definitely. I really feel that it has helped me to improve my symptoms. However, I did a lot of research beforehand and was guided by my consultant, so I’d recommend others also educate themselves on the therapy before deciding if it’s right for them.
Once you’ve finished your course of treatment do you think you will use HBOT again or any explore other less traditional treatments to keep on top of your health?
Yes, I would if I felt I was feeling run down or in wintertime when getting hit with colds, flu etc. I do also have a genetic auto-immune disorder so when I’m feeling 100% again, I’d really like to try the whole-body cryotherapy to help with any inflammation caused by my condition.
Finally, what would be your top tip for anyone starting hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
To do your research and commit to the treatment regularly, the impact is so much more if you do daily or multiple weekly sessions. My consultant shared a lot of research with me that motivated me to really commit to it and not give up which really helped me when I struggled with that very first session. And once you’ve got that first session done it just gets easier every time.
I’d also say to think about using that time to do something that will really help you heal, for example meditation. I already practise meditation but can really see the benefit it would have to use the time in the chamber to meditate.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Aqua-Tox Hertford
At Aqua-Tox we use a mild form of hyperbaric oxygen therapy that is safe within our non-medical setting. You can read more about our Airpod Hyperbaric chamber and it’s benefits in our HBOT blog post.
We are not a medical clinic and cannot validate that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a reliable treatment for long covid or any other medical condition. This case study reflects one persons experience of using the chamber to manage their own health on the advice of their own doctor. It is always advisable to seek medical advice before embarking on any treatment course.
If you would like to explore clinical research and further anecdotal evidence around hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the treatment of long covid here are some reliable sources of information: