Eavesdropping for Oxygen

I spent some quality time eavesdropping while waiting to go in for my dental check-up this morning. The conversation wasn’t particularly interesting until it turned to the topic of oxygen therapy. I pricked up my ears at the mention of this – I’ve been doing some breathing exercises lately as part of my yoga routine, so have been taking an interest in how the body interacts with oxygen in therapeutic contexts.

When I tuned in more closely, I discovered that the subject at hand was something known as hyperbaric treatment. In Melbourne, the conversationalists were saying, this can be obtained at a handful of different treatment centres. Apparently, it’s been shown to be helpful in treating certain conditions in which the supply of oxygen to particular body part is reduced, like in gangrene and diabetic wounds and stuff. They were saying that even things like chronic fatigue and some brain injuries can sometimes be treated with it.

What’s interesting to me is that, from what I understand, oxygen is normally transported around the body by red blood cells. But it sounds like hyperbaric oxygen therapy allows oxygen to be dissolved into the bodily fluids at large – the plasma, lymph, central nervous system fluids – and even bone. That means it can get to areas where circulation is being blocked for whatever reason. The mammalian body is so weird and amazing!

The last bit of the conversation that I caught, before I got called in to have my teeth cleaned, was to do with there now being portable hyperbaric chambers for sale in Melbourne. I’m assuming that means there are companies from whom you can buy kits for setting up in your home or wherever. I’ll have to do a search to find out what form they take – I was picturing the chambers as something really massive, but maybe they’re more like the size of a float tank.

Such are the places one’s mind goes to while bored at the dentist. Better than a flicking through a year-old gossip magazine!