When the hyperbaric chamber closes, the patient will begin to feel the pressure and the only sensation or discomfort is that the ears are covered. This process will last 3 to 4 minutes and if they do not open continuously, it can hurt.
It is the same thing that happens when a person sinks in the pool or during ascent and descent inside an airplane. The outer ear is separated from the inner ear by a membrane called the eardrum, and with a small pressure difference between the two, the membrane stretches (inflates) and hurts.
The mechanism that our body has to avoid this discomfort is to compensate the internal pressure with the external pressure by opening the Eustachian tubes. When these ducts opens, the pressure that we have in the throat enters and equalize the external pressure with the internal one keeping the membrane that separates them straight.
Some patients have these ducts closed or congested and can not be treated as it would generate pain. For this reason, if the patient is cold or congested, he is asked to get treatment when this condition ends. Many times the congestion is mild and with a little menthol the airways are opened. The opening of these compensation channels is facilitated.
If the patient needs help to compensate the ears the Valsalva maneuver is applied. It consists of covering the nose with the index finger and the thumb and with the closed mouth blowing with a slight pressure. With this maneuver, the patient will feel a slight noise in the ears that occurs when the air enters the eustachian ducts. This procedure must be done all the time every 15 seconds until the pressure rise in the cabin reaches the maximum.
At that time, it will not bother until the depressurization process begins, where the patient must carry out this maneuver again. Usually patients do this maneuver the 2 or 3 first sessions and then incorporate it and do not need to do it.
Some patients find it easier to swallow saliva, yawn or move the lower jaw with the mouth open from one side to the other. These movements also serve to unclog the Eustachian ducts. The operator has to watch the patient in his first and second session, telling him to compensate constantly.
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