There are about 100 conditions classified as autoimmune diseases and they affect about 7% of the American population according to the NIH. An autoimmune disease (AD) occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues as if they were foreign invaders. With Multiple Sclerosis, the immune system attacks the protective covering of the nerves. With Rheumatoid Arthritis, the immune system attacks the linings of joints, usually in the hands and feet. With Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the immune system attacks the lining of the intestinal tract. There are many potential causes and triggers for autoimmune diseases ranging from environmental toxicity to genetic malfunction. Lyme Disease and PANDAS are examples of Autoimmune Diseases that stem from bacterial infections that become chronic within tissues. Any part of the body can be attacked by an overactive immune system, creating a chronic inflammatory condition.
Because there are so many autoimmune diseases that can affect every part of the body, symptoms vary in type and intensity. While some may cause only minimal discomfort, others can be life-altering for the patient. Some ADs, like Type 1 Diabetes, cause constant symptoms while others, like Psoriasis come and go in “flare ups.” Common symptoms of many ADs include swelling of affected tissue, fever, pain, brain fog and fatigue.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy may be a very helpful therapy in combating the symptoms of autoimmune diseases by primarily fighting the chronic inflammation caused by the overactive immune system. ADs associated with infection may be treated with HBOT because the pressure and oxygen can reach deep into tissues and kill off the invading bacteria. Long-term treatments may decrease the intensity of flare ups as well as prolong the amount of time between the flare ups. Flooding the body with oxygen may reduce inflammation, decrease pain and support the immune system. Some patients have seen their Autoimmune Disorders go into remission after adding HBOT to their regimens. Many patients also report improved mental clarity, sleep, overall wellbeing, digestion and pain levels.
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