Following COVID infection, more than one in five adults in the United States aged 18-64 report persistent symptoms, commonly referred to as long COVID; the rate is one in four for those persons 65 years or older. These recent CDC findings are consistent with several large studies that indicated post-COVID conditions occur in 20-30 percent of patients. It is quite likely that you or a loved one are currently dealing with this condition, and you may be wondering if there is anything you can do about it. One of the options to reverse hypoxia, reduce inflammation, and induce neuroplasticity is hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Long COVID symptoms
Long COVID is a term used to describe the presence of a wide range of new, recurring, or ongoing symptoms weeks or months after acquiring a SARS-CoV-2 infection. The symptoms associated with long COVID are diverse, including one or more of the following:
- Brain fog
- Fatigue/post-exertional malaise
- Body aches in joints and muscles
- Chest pain
With more than 83 million cases of COVID reported so far in the US, there are millions of survivors requiring additional medical care.
What causes long COVID?
It has been hypothesized that long COVID is caused by a continued immune reaction following the initial infection. The symptoms that linger are produced because of the interplay between the patient’s inflammatory markers and their immune system. According to critical care medicine specialist Devang Sanghavi, M.D., “We are still trying to understand exactly how this interplay between immune system and inflammatory markers work, but there’s no doubt that it is a group of symptoms because of ramped up immunity or ramped up inflammatory system.” Another hypothesis is that the virus attacks the cells’ mitochondria. Subgroups of patients could be suffering for different reasons – or both hypotheses could be true simultaneously.
Potential benefits of HBOT for long COVID
While it’s too early for any long-term clinical research to have been completed, HBOT is being evaluated and used for treatment of the debilitating long-haul symptoms. HBOT is regarded as a safe and low-risk intervention, with no contraindication for patients with viral or bacterial infections. It can increase the circulation and delivery of oxygen under high pressure, making the tissue uptake more efficient and improve hypoxia; the hyperoxygenation of arterial blood has a strong anti-inflammatory effect.
We’re treating COVID patients every week and seeing dramatic improvements even with just a few treatments. These are some of our success stories:
Able to come off of supplemental oxygen
A 64-yo male contracted COVID in December 2021 and was hospitalized; he came to us in January 2022 on 3L O2 and pulse ox readings in the mid-80s to 90s. After his first HBOT treatment he remarked that his mental fog had cleared, and reported that on the drive home he was seeing things in vivid color again. He underwent 3 HBOT treatments per week while also receiving pulmonary rehab twice a week, and over the course of 14 weeks was able to steadily reduce and eventually eliminate his supplemental O2 all while maintaining pulse ox readings in the mid to upper 90s (often 100% following treatment). He more than doubled his lung capacity, his endurance improved almost immediately and he was able to exercise, and he quickly returned to full capacity at work.
A 22-yo male college athlete came to us 4 months post-COVID infection. Although his illness was mild, almost immediately he developed debilitating dizziness that impacted his activities of daily living. After just one treatment the dizziness resolved until the next morning, and at that time the episode was short-lived. He continued with an additional three sessions and had complete resolution of his symptoms.
Sleep improved; dizziness resolved
A 43-yo female developed vertigo during her initial infection that never went away. Following just two HBOT sessions she reported complete resolution of her dizziness. As a bonus, she also was sleeping well despite a history of sleep dysfunction.
Nighttime hypoxia resolved
A 51-yo female who had been hospitalized in January for COVID came to us in May with nighttime hypoxia at night that required supplemental O2. She has had only four treatments but has seen a reduction in the need for supplemental oxygen, and the resolution of left-sided pleuritic pain.
We’re ready to answer your questions if you’d like to learn more about HBOT for long COVID. Contact us today.
 Bull-Otterson L, Baca S, Saydah S, et al. Post–COVID Conditions Among Adult COVID-19 Survivors Aged 18–64 and ≥65 Years — United States, March 2020–November 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:713–717. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7121e1
 Robbins T, Gonevski M, Clark C, Baitule S, Sharma K, Magar A, Patel K, Sankar S, Kyrou I, Ali A, Randeva HS. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of long COVID: early evaluation of a highly promising intervention. Clin Med (Lond). 2021 Nov;21(6):e629-e632. doi: 10.7861/clinmed.2021-0462. PMID: 34862223; PMCID: PMC8806311.