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The Healing Power of Oxygen

Dr. Joseph Cavorsi, Wound Care

July 15, 2021

The Healing Power of Oxygen

3 facts you did not know about this incredible medical therapy.

Oxygen is an abundant chemical within our atmosphere that is essential for most living things. Everyone associates oxygen with breathing and the lungs, but the process goes far beyond. All cells in the body need oxygen to create energy to live. Inadequate oxygen delivery to the cells can lead to dysfunction of the cells, contributing to many disease states, and in severe cases may lead to cell death.

For something we can’t see or hold, oxygen is pretty powerful medicine. Here are three other facts about oxygen that you probably didn’t know:

1. Oxygen is an enemy of bacteria. Many infection producing bacteria need no- or low-oxygen conditions to grow and survive. These are called anaerobes. Anaerobic bacteria can cause serious infections, and at times life threatening. They are extremely sensitive to high concentrations of oxygen and can be eliminated with direct exposure. Other more common bacteria, such as Staphylococcus, E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, require oxygen to grow and multiply, but when oxygen revs up our immune system, these germs stand less of a chance. 

2. Oxygen is considered a “drug” by the FDAIt has specific biochemical and physiologic actions, a distinct range of effective doses, and well-defined adverse effects at high doses. Oxygen is commonly prescribed by medical providers to treat a broad range of conditions and to relieve or prevent tissue hypoxia (lack of oxygen).

3. Oxygen has healing powers. In hyperbaric medicine therapy, patients recline in a special chamber and breath 100% oxygen (the air we breathe normally is 21% oxygen). The chamber is then pressurized to two to two-and-a-half times greater than atmospheric pressure. This supplies high concentrations of this gas throughout body to cure infections that are resistant to antibiotics and boost healthy tissue growth. This therapy not only targets trouble areas, but provides benefits to the entire body, including the heart, kidneys and even the brain.

White Plains Hospital has two state-of-the-art hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers, part of its Limb Preservation Program, to treat many conditions, including diabetic foot wounds and tissue damage from radiation and reconstructive surgery. The program features specialized physicians and ancillary staff dedicated to preventing and reducing the risk of amputations in patients with peripheral artery related diseases, complications of diabetes, serious infections and problem chronic wounds.

When used correctly, this powerful therapy can restore health and change lives.
For more information, visit our Limb Preservation Program webpage.

Dr. Joseph Cavorsi

Dr. Joseph Cavorsi is a board-certified general surgeon specializing in wound care at White Plains Hospital. For an appointment, call 914-948-1000.