Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism

Autism is associated with difficulties in communication, social, and restricted or repetitive behaviors in individuals. High pressure or hyperbaric oxygen therapy for autism is a proposed treatment to treat these symptoms in children and adults.

Children with autism struggle with neurological issues such as epilepsy, sleep disturbances, motor deficits, sensory disorder, etc. The objectives of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for autism are:

  • To improve the core symptoms including communication and social issues, and repetitive behavior.
  • Improve depression and anxiety

 What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Autism

Individuals with autism have a weak immune system, neuroinflammation, gastrointestinal inflammation, oxidative stress, hypoperfusion and various neurotransmitter disorders which are correlated with autistic symptoms. Cerebral hypoperfusion is linked with stereotyped behavior, impairment in communication and also with repetition of physical movements or sounds. 

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treats these autism-related issues by providing adequate oxygen supply to the brain and preventing further brain-cell damage. This therapy also acts as an antibiotic to decrease the abnormal pathogens in the gut often found in children with autism. Thus, hyperbaric oxygen therapy for autism controls the immune system and reduces inflammation in the brain and the gastrointestinal tract.

 Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for autism compensates for declined oxygenated blood flow to the brain by increasing the oxygen content in brain cells and body tissues. During hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the individual receives a few sessions of hyperbaric oxygen treatment. The therapist delivers a dose of high concentration of oxygen at an atmospheric pressure which is 1.5 times more than the normal pressure. The individual inhales the pure oxygen in a sealed chamber. 

The therapy is also recommended for conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Possible Side Effects and Complications

During hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the individual is placed in an enclosed chamber, breathe oxygen while the pressure is increased slowly. Due to the increased pressure, he/she may experience discomfort, ear pain or an exploding sensation in ears.

Possible side effects include: 

  • Fatigue and light-headedness
  • Rupture of the middle ear
  • Sinus damage
  • Fluctuations in vision resulting in near-sightedness
  • Oxygen poisoning results in fluid accumulation in the lungs causing lung failure or seizures

The healthcare providers or therapists consider the health problems and age criteria of the individual to reduce the risk of complications. They take short breaks during the therapy to prevent the tissues from absorbing excess oxygen.

The therapy may last from a few minutes or as long as 2 hours (as prescribed), after which the pressure is returned to its normal level. 


The best way to avoid complications during hyperbaric oxygen therapy is by hiring the services of a certified, trained and experienced therapists.

Author: autismconnectassociation

Autism Connect is a voluntary group based in Mumbai, India formed by parents and professional care-takers of children on the autism spectrum. Parenting and caring for a child with autism is a special responsibility in itself. There are doubts, questions and uncertainties in our minds. At Autism Connect, we endeavor to collect literature on evidence based practices (with special emphasis on newer emerging therapies) in the management of autism and share it with autism associations and organizations across the world with the hope that these associations disseminate and distribute this to their members and parents of children with autism.

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