Unraveling Long COVID Symptoms: Exploring Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as a Promising Treatment Option

Unraveling Long COVID Symptoms: Exploring Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as a Promising Treatment Option

Long COVID has emerged as a perplexing condition, affecting individuals long after their initial COVID-19 infection. The persistence of symptoms has led to a pressing need for effective treatment options.

In this evidence-based blog article, we will delve into Long COVID symptoms, investigate the potential of hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a treatment option, and address the duration and benefits of this therapy. Here we explore the latest research and insights on Long COVID and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Long Covid and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

What are Long COVID Symptoms?

Long COVID refers to a condition where individuals experience a wide range of persistent symptoms weeks or months after recovering from COVID-19. The symptoms can vary from person to person, but commonly include persistent fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, muscle aches, joint pain, sleep disturbances, and psychological distress such as depression and anxiety.1 The diverse and debilitating nature of these symptoms can significantly impact an individual's quality of life and daily functioning.


Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy a Treatment Option for Long COVID?


Hyperbaric Chamber for Long Covid


Exploring The Evidence

One promising avenue for treating Long COVID is hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, enabling higher oxygen levels to reach the body's tissues. Furthermore, going from breathing high pressure oxygen in chambers back to normal atmospheric oxygen of air is interpreted by the brain as a reduction in pressure, which subsequently stimulates stem cell production and growth of new blood vessels in the brain, thereby aiding faster recovery.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the supply of oxygen to tissues, promoting healing, reducing inflammation, and enhancing the immune response.2 These mechanisms hold promise for mitigating the persistent symptoms experienced by Long COVID patients. While this has been widely used to treat conditions such as non-healing wounds and carbon monoxide poisoning, its potential efficacy for Long COVID treatment is recently gaining attention.

Although the success of hyperbaric therapy as a treatment for Long COVID appears currently to be mostly anecdotal, there is increasing research interest as some studies have shed light on the potential benefits.

In a 2022 randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial published in the Scientific Reports Journal, the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on individuals with post-COVID-19 symptoms lasting for a minimum of three months after confirmed infection was evaluated.3 The study involved 73 patients who were randomly assigned to receive either daily 40 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen treatment (37 participants) or a sham treatment (36 participants). Follow-up assessments were conducted at baseline and 1-3 weeks after the completion of the treatment sessions.

The researchers discovered that hyperbaric oxygen therapy resulted in improvements in various aspects such as dysexecutive functions (cognitive abilities related to planning, organization, and problem-solving), psychiatric symptoms (including depression, anxiety, and somatization), pain interference symptoms, and fatigue.

This study represents the first prospective, randomized sham-controlled trial that provides evidence of significant improvement beyond the anticipated clinical recovery trajectory in individuals with post-COVID-19 conditions. The findings revealed that patients who underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy reported notable reductions in brain fog, improved memory and attention, increased energy levels, and decreased pain. In contrast, the control group did not report any significant improvements.

 Furthermore, a University Hospitals Coventry UK study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine examined the effects of HBOT on individuals with Long COVID. The researchers found that patients, after receiving 10 sessions of HBOT at 2.4 atmospheres over the course of 12 days, experienced significant improvements in fatigue, breathlessness, and cognitive function.4 The authors theorized that the diverse range of changes observed in long COVID may be attributed to prolonged tissue hypoxia, which is often a common factor in various conditions that have shown positive responses to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. They recommended further research to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms of long COVID and the favorable outcomes that were observed in relation to HBOT.

Studies into Hyperbarics and Long COVID are ongoing, including a Karolinska University Hospital proposed randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase II clinical trial involving 80 previously healthy subjects affected by Long COVID-19, registered with the British Medical Journal.5

What is the Duration and Frequency of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Long COVID Treatment?


 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy


A common question that arises regarding HBOT is whether the benefits are long-lasting or necessitate ongoing sessions. While individual responses may vary, current evidence, although understandably limited given the recency of the phenomenon, indicate that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may provide long-term benefits for some Long COVID patients.

Treatment sessions typically last between 60 to 90 minutes and the recommended number of sessions can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and individual response. While some patients may experience significant improvement after a few sessions, others may require additional treatments to achieve desired results due for example, to underlying issues like chronic lung or heart disease. Click here for some of the frequently asked questions on hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is administered under the supervision of qualified healthcare professionals experienced in this field. They assess the suitability of HBOT for each individual case and determine an optimal treatment plan tailored to their needs. If you or someone you know is grappling with Long COVID symptoms, consulting with an expert is essential.

Healthcare professionals at Healing The Hyperbaric Way can provide you with personalized guidance and determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

This article is written by Dr. Callista Chinenye Emecheta a Medical Doctor and a Public Health Scholar at the University of ​Northampton, England. 



  1. Vanderlind, W. M. et al. A systematic review of neuropsychological and psychiatric sequalae of COVID-19: Implications for treatment. Curr. Opin. Psychiatry 34, 420–433.
  1. Efrati, S. & Ben-Jacob, E. (2014). Reflections on the neurotherapeutic effects of hyperbaric oxygen. Expert Rev. Neurother. 14, 233–236. https://doi.org/10.1586/14737175.2014.884928
  1. Zilberman-Itskovich, S., Catalogna, M., Sasson, E. et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves neurocognitive functions and symptoms of post-COVID condition: randomized controlled trial. Sci Rep 12, 11252 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-15565-0
  1. Robbins, T., Gonevski, M., Clark, C., Baitule, S., Sharma, K., Magar, A., Patel, K., Sankar, S., Kyrou, I., Ali, A., & Randeva, H. S. (2021). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of long COVID: early evaluation of a highly promising intervention. Clinical medicine (London, England), 21(6), e629–e632. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmed.2021-0462
  1. Kjellberg A, Abdel-Halim L, Hassler A, et alHyperbaric oxygen for treatment of long COVID-19 syndrome (HOT-LoCO): protocol for a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase II clinical trialBMJ Open 2022;12:e061870. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-061870