Oxygen Treatment CFS

by Mark F
(Swindon, England)

Hi Katherine,

Other visitors with CFSME might be interested to hear about the Oxygen Treatment I am having at the hyperbaric chamber at the Swindon MS Therapy Centre.

Here's the wiki link in case it's useful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbaric_medicine

At £330 it's very expensive but that's for 20 sessions (if you book 20 you get them for about half price). They recommend you do the initial 20 sessions as quickly as possible (ideally one a day) so that you get maximum benefit. I've had 10 sessions so far.

Unfortunately it's not a magic pill... they say the effect is subtle and you won't necessarily notice any difference at first. So far that's indeed the case! I'm not noticing anything good... however it is quite tiring going back and forth for the sessions, so the stress levels have gone up a little!

The terminology is a bit confusing (or at least I found it so at first!) ... Sometimes they are talking about pressure (in which case they talk about "up" ... as in the numbers involved are going up) and sometimes they're talking about depth (as in the simulated depth underwater, in which case they talk about "down"). Most people I imagine wouldn't get confused by that, but sometimes I got a bit lost as to which direction I was being taken in!

It's all carefully controlled and the operators of the chamber are friendly. When the session begins, you choose a seat in the hyperbaric chamber. You are given a mask (long-term users bring their own) and the mask is connected to two pipes - one for "oxygen in" and one for "breathing out". Then the door is closed and a friendly voice comes over the speaker telling you that the session is starting.

There is a bit of noise as they increase the pressure in the chamber. Some people have problems with their ears and I was told that if I experienced pain then I should bang on the metal wall of the chamber and let them know that it's not working (they say if you feel pain then it won't improve - it'll just feel more and more uncomfy).

I was lucky and didn't experience any ear pain (the only sensation I had was the same feeling as you get when in an aeroplane going up or down... just that funny sensation in the ear where you need to keep swallowing to normalise the pressure in your head).

You can choose between three different pressures:

16.ft depth (equivalent to an extra atmosphere of pressure)
24ft depth (1.5 atmospheres)
33ft depth (2 atmospheres)

I should say that I'm only quoting what I've been told about "atmospheres" ... e.g. I haven't looked it up to confirm that 16ft is definitely equivalent to an extra atmosphere of pressure... I tried to confirm it but my brain went a bit woolly at the maths! :-)

As a beginner, you start at 16ft and then can request to go lower (lower in depth, higher in pressure - see what I mean about it being confusing!) ... When I said I had M.E. they checked their policy list and apparently their M.E. policy is to get down to 33ft as quickly as possible, because past patients have said that higher pressure resulted in greater benefit. I did two sessions at 16ft, then two at 24ft, and now I do 33ft each time (unless other people in the same chamber session are unable to go that high in which case I do 24ft again).

There is a school of thought that says Oxygen Treatment at 33ft isn't necessarily going to help you in any dramatically-different way to lower pressures. The extra pressure, I was told, is pushing on your veins and so is causing a bit of impedance to your blood flow... and so you might be taking in more oxygen, but it's not flowing as well around your body. I looked on the search engines for information but couldn't find anything about it, so I have just stuck at 33ft for now.

Anyway, that is probably enough information for now! As I say, I'm about halfway through my sessions so I'll let you know if I notice any dramatic difference.

If anyone in Swindon with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or MS is considering Oxygen treatment then the people at the MS centre are always happy to give people a tour.

Cheers for now,

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