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Altitude Sickness

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

How's it going everyone.  I'm a flatlander heading out to Colorado this weekend with a quick question about AMS.  I'm an in-shape 34 year old guy, run 5x per week ski 20x per year, etc.  Each time I've headed out west I suffered from altitude sickness.  The first time I went out to Vail, I had the typical mild symptoms - headaches, nausea, shortness of breath.  The last time I went out to Breckenridge I tried taking Diamox to offset the symptoms, however I wound up getting AMS worse!  I've been diligent about drinking tons of water and avoiding alcohol, but no luck.

 

This time around, I plan to sleep the first night in Denver...has anyone noticed if sleeping in Denver helps the first nihgt?  Any other advice?

 

I'm hoping for a fantastic, symptom-free Winter Park trip this weekend!  Thanks for your input!

post #2 of 25

Start taking low-dose aspirin daily, starting now and continuing for the duration of your stay.  Ideally you want to start taking the aspirin two weeks prior to your trip, but better late than never.  The other things (which I see you already do) is to increase water consumption and avoid alcohol.

 

Here's a helpful article with medical references to double blind studies to test the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin against high-altitude induced headaches. 

post #3 of 25

Hey Doug enjoy the trip I will be at the jane side on Saturday for skiing. Anyway after living out here for a while and having family visit from the east coast were given a recommendation that we have modified a little. This is from and er nurse they suggested anybody coming to visit to have them start the day before on a protocol of 8oz of water followed by 8oz of gatorade the next hour until they have consumed a total of 64oz. And then for them to do this the first day of trip visiting Colorado. We found while this worked okay what worked even better to was increase the amount of gatorade when they arrived to about 40oz alone and then add in the water of 32oz. While the person had to pee a lot during there visit they had no problem with altitude sickness while we took them all around the state.

 

So I think staying hydrated to where the pee is clear and copius is the most important key.

post #4 of 25

Boy, do I ever have an article for you:  Altitude Adaption and Acute Mountain Sickness is an Epicski Wiki written by our resident physician and University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty member dp (Dr. David M. Polaner MD).  Read it.  Then come back here and know which advice to take and which to ignore.

post #5 of 25

I read somewhere that taking a small dose of Viagra or it's equivalent helps with AMS. Also your S.O may appreciate it.

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougNJ View Post

 

 

This time around, I plan to sleep the first night in Denver...has anyone noticed if sleeping in Denver helps the first nihgt?  Any other advice?

 

 


Nothing beats acclimation. One night will help, but honestly three nights would be a lot better. Since I moved to elevation 4000 feet, I really don't notice the effects of altitude below 9000'. When I lived at elevation 600' I would start to feel the effects of altitude at 3000'

 

My observation is that what often gets people in trouble is skiing, biking or hiking as hard as they would at lower elevations. Go easy the first few days is my advice

 

Hydrate and Advil seems to be what works for many people

post #7 of 25
Quote:
I read somewhere that taking a small dose of Viagra or it's equivalent helps with AMS. Also your S.O may appreciate it.

 

I'd stick to reputable medical advice, myself.  Viagra is a vasodilator and lowers blood pressure, which is probably useless for treating AMS.  It can also be dangerous if you're on other drugs that mess with your blood pressure.

 

Advil is an anti-inflammatory drug.  Good if you're sore or bruised.  Again, probably not gonna do much about AMS, except maybe help with the headache.  For me, aspirin or Tylenol work better for headaches.  A lot of people like Aleve, too, since it lasts all day (or night).

 

Hydration never hurts.  Taking it easy is good advice.  The wiki linked above has more good advice, such as sleeping at a lower elevation if possible.

post #8 of 25

Breck is rough.  Its a roll of the dice fore me.  I've been there 4 times and twice it kicked my butt.  Its bad enough sleeping at over 9000 feet but last year was the first time I had been up to "the top" and skiing at almost 13,000 ft. just about did me in.  I hydrated like crazy but it never really helped.

post #9 of 25

I live at sea level and an currently in Summit County towards the end of a 3 week stay.  Takes me 2-3 days to feel normal.  I stay in Denver the first night and take it easy the first couple days.  Lots of water and Excedrin seems to work for me.  After two plus weeks, I feel pretty normal and can even cllimb a bit at 12,000 feet plus and not fell too bad other than a bit out of breath.  Made multilple laps in the upper Breck bowls today and really enjoyed myself.  Everyone is affected differently.  Some are lucky (me) and others get it bad.  Doesn't seem to matter what kind of shape your in.

post #10 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

Boy, do I ever have an article for you:  Altitude Adaption and Acute Mountain Sickness is an Epicski Wiki written by our resident physician and University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty member dp (Dr. David M. Polaner MD).  Read it.  Then come back here and know which advice to take and which to ignore.



Why wait on something that may actually kill somebody?   If it thins your blood you are putting yourself in danger taking it.....like Excedrin, Advil etc etc.

 

Forget the chemicals for treating a headache.  Jump in a warm to hot shower with a ice pack on your head and/or neck and that will usually nix the headache.  It's great advice to stay at a slightly lower altitude the first night you are in the area like Denver or even Vail.  Lots of water, and skip the stuff with caffeine in it and carbonated beverages and ALL booze.

 

Other than the stuff above designed to catch your attention......read the Wiki Cirque suggested above,  or just jump on the lift with dp (Dave Polaner) sometime in Summit County and have him explain it all to ya.

post #11 of 25

I've found the best solution for me is to skip Colorado and ski Utah, Wyoming, Tahoe, or basically anywhere else.

post #12 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cstreu1026 View Post

I've found the best solution for me is to skip Colorado and ski Utah, Wyoming, Tahoe, or basically anywhere else.

QFT.  If you own a high altitude cabin in high range Colorado, so be it. If not, why deal with it at all. Extreme altitude and severe cold can be avoided. There are bears who can deal, I'm not one, and have no problem saying so, I'm a resort skier, not a hardened mountaineer.

 

(Aspirin?? Let's see. You're going to engage in a dangerous sport, broken bones can tear large arteries, broken femur is possible, and you are going to expose yourself to a higher risk of bleeding out??)

post #13 of 25

Ask your Doctor for about Diamox. Taken a day or two before your trip as well as daily while you are there will do the job. It works for me.

post #14 of 25

Hope it all works out.   There's fresh snow at Winter Park.

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

I'm gonna give Diamox a try again.  After doing a bunch of research, I honestly feel I may have been on the verge of, or in the early stages of HAPE.  It very much felt like bronchitis (burning chest), coughing up pinkish "gunk," very hard time catching my breath, wheezing, etc.  Crazy part is none of my friends were hit nearly as hard!  They had the typical headache, shortness of breath, etc.

 

I really hope The slightly lower altitude at Winter Park treats me better than the Breckenridge peaks!  Thanks for all your input everyone!!!

post #16 of 25

Here's an "extreme" regimen that worked for me last year for my ski trip to Colorado (Snowmass): 

--  stop drinking alcohol a week before your trip

--  don't drink alcohol the entire time you're there

--  drink less coffee during the trip (the adrenelin rush from skiing compensates for the reduction in caffeine)

--  drink lots of liquids all the time, e.g., wear a Camelback Zoid, have soup for lunch along with the sandwich, etc.

--  get a humidifier for your room at night.

 

This year (in three weeks, yahoo!), I'm going to add one more element:

-- arrive at the resort the afternoon of the day before your first ski day, to help get acclimated at base level.  

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimH View Post

Doesn't seem to matter what kind of shape your in.



In fact, better-conditioned athletes are more susceptible to AMS, probably because they push themselves too hard.  Sleep low, hydrate, ease up on the throttle a bit, eat carbs, seems to be the best advice from what I've read.  One night in Denver might help, especially if you can get up high the day before (maybe drive up I-70 for some sightseeing), but it's difficult to acclimate to an increase of more than 1000 feet per day.

post #18 of 25

 

Did the Diamox thing about 15 years ago before a weekend diversion to Taos off a business trip to Phoenix. It was my first time skiig at altitude and with only two days, there was no time to adapt.

 

First of all, you need to start taking it 5 days in advance and continue for a couple of days after arrival (at least those were my doctor's instructions). It's a diauretic, so your bladder will feel like it's 80 years old and some foods (soda in particular) don't taste quite right. Those are the normal and more benign side effects; there are, potentially, a whole bunch of less pleasant ones (thankfully, none of which I experienced). It may have prevented true altitude sickness, but didn't prevent me from becoming easily winded.

 

Since then, I've just accepted the fact that I need a day or two to acclimate. I make a conscious effort to stay hydrated, drink alcohol in moderation (can't see where a single beer or glass of wine with dinner does much harm), and take it easy the first couple of days. Usually, by my third day, I'm back to normal.

post #19 of 25

I'm been making periodic trips to the mtns for decades. My worse case of altitude sickness occurred when I went to Tahoe and learned how to snowboard in 2003. It had been a few years since I had made a trip to CO. Once I got back into my routine of 3-4 trips a year to the mtns, I haven't had a recurrence.

When we go to CO, we typically drive through the TX panhandle. Most people would be surprised to learn that the elevation of most towns there is 3600-3900 feet. We stay overnight there (11 drive from Houston, elevation 125 feet). The second day of the drive is where we hit the water and noncaffeinated beverages.

We had no problem last weekend with a trip to SLC (other than the fact I lost my ski bootshissyfit.gif)

 

You can try the diamox. Or you can stick with getting a prescription for nausea as needed and let your body adapt...

post #20 of 25

My favorite cure for altitude sickness is Alyeska.

post #21 of 25

We've been fortunate that we've had very few cases of AMS for our visiting friends and family over the years.

 

Our strategy for friends and family whom come in during the day is have lunch or dinner at lower elevation.  At least they'll get several hours acclimating first, before increasing another two to three more thousand altitude.  If they come in very late, then we just encourage them to hydrate and get a good rest.  If for some reason they get AMS the next day (only happened once so far), then we send them down to SLC for lunch, shopping, movie, etc.  That usually do the trick for them to feel better.

 

We don't ask them to take pills.  Mostly we engage them to drink lots of water for hydration.

 

 

 

post #22 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

I'd stick to reputable medical advice, myself.  Viagra is a vasodilator and lowers blood pressure, which is probably useless for treating AMS.  It can also be dangerous if you're on other drugs that mess with your blood pressure.

 

Advil is an anti-inflammatory drug.  Good if you're sore or bruised.  Again, probably not gonna do much about AMS, except maybe help with the headache.  For me, aspirin or Tylenol work better for headaches.  A lot of people like Aleve, too, since it lasts all day (or night).

 

Hydration never hurts.  Taking it easy is good advice.  The wiki linked above has more good advice, such as sleeping at a lower elevation if possible.


According to this, there might be something to the viagra thing, but I would certainly talk to your doctor first. http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/beall.html

 

Can modern medicine learn something from people who live in high altitudes?

Relaxing blood vessels helps improve oxygen intake at high altitudes.

Beall: Yes, it can. One example is the famous Viagra® [generic = Sildenafil] study on Mt. Everest.5 Nitric oxide works on the same chemical pathway as Viagra; it causes relaxation of blood vessels. In the case of Viagra, you are interested in relaxing the enlarging blood vessels of the penis so that blood can flow. Well at high altitude, it is important to relaxing your blood vessels in general. Therefore, this led to the Viagra experiment. People were joking about it for a while. German scientists wondered if Viagra would improve physiological function at high altitude. The researchers had a placebo group and a Viagra group to test if Viagra would improve oxygen uptake and exercise capacity. And it did!

post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

 

I'd stick to reputable medical advice, myself.  Viagra is a vasodilator and lowers blood pressure, which is probably useless for treating AMS.  It can also be dangerous if you're on other drugs that mess with your blood pressure.

 


Actually Viagra is being prescribed for those who can't take Diamox due to sulfa intolerance.  I met a 65 year old women in Nepal who was taking it, prescribed by "reputable medical advice".

 

If you have actual scientific data to the contrary, post it.
 

post #24 of 25
The buddies are hinting at going back to Summit County at some point, though last time, the altitude really did a number on me. I didn't know it at the time, but I'm a sleep apnea sufferer, and the thin air kept me up all night.

Does anyone have experience with staying in Silverthorne vs Breck. It's about 900ft lower so I'm wondering if it might help. (I know I asked this a few years ago, but didn't get much response.)
post #25 of 25

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post


Actually Viagra is being prescribed for those who can't take Diamox due to sulfa intolerance.  I met a 65 year old women in Nepal who was taking it, prescribed by "reputable medical advice".

 

If you have actual scientific data to the contrary, post it.
 


I do not, but hadn't heard anything backing up its use before, either.  Sounds like there may be something there, but as noted above, you should ask your doctor.

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