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Hyperbaric Oxygen and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

For infections in general, hyperbaric oxygen is a natural antibiotic which enhances the destruction and inhibits the growth of bacteria. Hyperbaric oxygen also works synergistically with antimicrobials such as fluoroquinolones, aminoglycosides and amphotericin B, bringing these antimicrobials deep into the tissues; thus increasing their effectivity and reducing their side effects. Hyperbaric oxygen clears the body of inflammatory chemicals, including lactic acid; which then reduces inflammation and promotes healing.

For resistant infections, i.e. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus,hyperbaric oxygen increases the availability of oxygen used by neutrophils in killing MRSA. Since MRSA is resistant to most of the existing antibiotics, Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an effective adjunctive therapy, in which these microorganisms will not develop a resistance to. Studies also show that S. aureus is susceptible to oxygen stress, producing a significant growth inhibition of the microorganism when exposed to hyperbaric hyperoxic conditions.


Staphylococcus aureus is a very common bacterium found on the skin and mucous membranes of humans. Staphylococcal infections are easily treatable but some microbes are highly resistant to antibiotics. MRSA infections are found most commonly in hospitals, healthcare facilities and nursing homes. People with compromised immune system are more at risk of acquiring MRSA. If left untreated, may cause life-threatening widespread infection of the bloodstream.


In Canada, there is an increase in the detection of MRSA due to more effective screening techniques in hospitals. The rampant misuse of antibiotics for unwarranted conditions makes the microorganisms more resistant and difficult to treat. MRSA is found in conditions such as osteomyelitis, necrotizing soft tissue infections, pneumonia, septic arthritis and endocarditis.

Benefits of HBO in infections: 

  • Hyperbaric oxygen oxygenates all tissues and has bacteriostatic, antiviral and fungicidal properties.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen increases the oxidative killing capacity of white blood cells and enhances phagocytosis of microorganisms resulting to improved immune system.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen works well with antibiotics increasing their potency and decreasing their side effects.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen decreases inflammation by clearing lactic acid and other inflammatory chemicals.
  • Prophylactic hyperbaric oxygen therapy restores the microcirculation and bolsters the immune system therefore enabling the body to fight off future infections.
Further reading:
  1. K.K. Jain: Textbook of hyperbaric medicine: Ch 13: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Infections, Hogrefe& Huber Publishers, Inc., 3rd Ed.13: 189 –211, 1999.

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Proudly serving Metro Vancouver and British Columbians with hyperbaric oxygen services and wound care since 1999

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7850 Sixth Street - Burnaby V3N 3N3 - British Columbia - Vancouver - CANADA - Ph: 604-777-7055

 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.