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Altitude Adjustment

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Just wondering if anyone has any tips to adjust to higher elevations faster. I know drinking lots of water helps in decreasing the chance of altitude sickness but just looking for any other suggestions.
post #2 of 28
There is the Diamox thread from a while back:

I used Diamox this summer in the Wind River Range, but started it after I got sick. Don't know if the medication helped or just the 36 hours at elevation. Given how few vacation days I get, I will probably use Diamox earlier in the next trip just to be cautious.

post #3 of 28
Hey! That was my very first thread on Epicski!

I did find Diamox helpful. The glitch is the fact that I had no idea of how I would have reacted without it, since I was just in CO. for the weekend. Giving yourself time to acclimatize is often sited as being important. But sometimes on a ski vacation, you just don't have time.

One thing to keep in mind: Some people have bad reactions to Diamox, usually if you are allergic to Sulfa Drugs. Level of fitness does not have much to do with it. I know some very fit low landers that get hit, wicked bad.

A good book is Going Higher: Altitude, Man and Mountain.

BTW, just read your profile. Stamford. Hope you don't work in NYC.
post #4 of 28
I've done the ambulance run to the E.R. twice because of A.M.S., so I now try real hard to preplan my altitude changes. I try to stage the ascent to sleeping altitude if possible. I no longer will even consider doing a one day ascent to sleep over above 8000 ft. The E.R. doctors at Jackson and Frisco told me that the altitude for the overnight portion is probably the most important component. Another thing I do is to take Diamox for two days before I reach altitude. The two days is important to ward off symptoms,since it takes time to build up a concentration of the active ingredients in your blood stream. Something else that I have tried that seems to help is carrying a couple of liters of water with me that has been doped with one of the "O3" components. Many people say that absorption through the digestive tract is insignificant, but I have found that this 'oxygenated water' seems to improve my stamina at altitude by a good margin.(Doctors advised me that fatigue played a large role in A.M.S. symptoms). ---------I have read some ads on an O-8000 herbal supplement and it sounds good, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. GOOD LUCK!!!
post #5 of 28
The wives' tales are abundant on the issue of acclimatization. The truth is that the only thing that can help is a hyperbaric chamber.

The human body generally needs about 2 weeks to acclimatize to high altitudes and lower oxygen concentration. Every one of the things that folks have mentioned above are things that respond to the symptoms, not the causes.

The simple answer is, if you don't have 2 weeks to spend at that altitude/oxygen %, don't have access to simulation through a hyperbaric chamber, or don't know an MD familiar with and willing to help with blood doping, you can't acclimatize any faster.

Your body needs a higher concentration of red blood cells -- an increase in hematocrit levels. There are no shortcuts other than the three I mentioned above. However, you can minimize the effects of your body's feeble attempt to adjust within only a few days. Headache medicine, increased hydration, reduced diuretics all help toward the symptoms of mild altitude sickness.

If there really was any other solution, you can rest assured that the professional road cyclists would use it in their Tours de France, their Giros de Italia, their Vueltas a Espana, their Tours of Switzerland.
post #6 of 28
I go from sea level to the 8000 plus ski areas and what has helped me the most is to drink a ton of water, skip alcohol for the first 2 or 3 days and take it easy the first day of skiing.
post #7 of 28
One suggestion I've heard, that may not always be possible, is to sleep at as low an elevation as possible. Examples might be staying in Frisco vs. Breckenridge, SLC vs. Snowbird, Bishop vs. Mammoth, etc.
post #8 of 28
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by KevinH:
One suggestion I've heard, that may not always be possible, is to sleep at as low an elevation as possible. Snip<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I recall the opposite being true, that you want to sleep at higher elevations. My brain is a little foggy right now, and a quick thumbing through of my references books provides no insight. Anyone else?
post #9 of 28
I've got to agree with dirtsqeezer on this one. The more time spent higher the better, including sleeping. You need to adjust, not change altitude. Good or not I always like a Gatorade or other sport drink. My opinion.
post #10 of 28
I've done a lot of hiking at fairly high altitude, 14,000 ft. Use Diamox BEFORE you hike. It prevent HAPCE and HACE but doesn't help once you get it. (Diamox also makes you piss A LOT) If you do get sick you need Detremetrzone (spelling is off, maybe someone elce knows how to spell). This helps you once you get sick. All high high altitude people carry it along just in case. I use Diamox before I go hiking and during the first day or two of the trip. If I still get sick I use a little detremetrozone. Ask your doctor. The stuff does miracles.
post #11 of 28
I think Gonz is right
We don't really acclimate for 2 weeks but we can reduce the affect and symptoms.
Being in good shape with good cardio fitness sure doesn't hurt either.
post #12 of 28
Never needed to us any drugs to keep up my top performance, but this might help some of you
post #13 of 28
Another link...good info I think.
post #14 of 28
Move to Summit County for a couple of months for the winter to ski. Base of Breckenridge is 9,600'. When I first moved there I was winded after climbing the stairs. Strange gasps for air and irregular breathing for a few weeks. When I moved back to the PNW I did a bunch of climbing and had no issues with altitude. Ok, this is the most un realistic option, but why do you think USPS and other elite athletes live and train in Colorado.
post #15 of 28
My two cents worth: neither my wife Ann nor I have ever had altitude sickness but have many friends who complain about it.

Most of our trips to, say, Summit County, CO to stay at the Tiger Run trailer park in Breck from Ohio are by RV, it takes us two and a half days of traveling, gradually gaining altitude, which may help in not getting sick. We usually stay for three weeks but see no difference in breathing from the first to the last day, but there may be.

Last year we flew to Reno and stayed in South Lake Tahoe, I don't know the altitude there, but it is lower than Breckenridge. We also had no problems there. No problem this year in Lech, Austria, though the mountains seem much higher than in the rockies, in fact the valleys are lower and many mountain tops are not as high as the town of Breckenridge.

BTW, Going from Breckenridge to Frisco you lose about a hundred feet, if that.

post #16 of 28
Lots of good points. One thing we keep forgetting, Full acclimation and the symptoms of altitude sickness are 2 different things. A lot has to do with the person. Just like some people don't get car sick or air sick and can read in the car, others have to take every remedy they can get their hands on to keep from losing it.

I seem to "adjust" to 9600Ft in about a 24 hours (headaches go away) but I'm still breathing hard and I still feel the "affects" at being up there even a week later.
post #17 of 28
I give everyone visiting me in the Bozeman to ski or see Yellowstone the same advise:

1 - Get in shape. Being aerobically fit really helps.

2 - Increase your fluids. Many people suffer as much or more from dehydration as they do from lack of oxygen.

3 - Limit your alcohol.

4 - Get enough rest. There is a tendency to try to do too much while on vacation which only exasperates the situation.
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. I think you confirmed just about everything I had ever heard. Also LisaMarie I do work in NYC so it's been a difficult few weeks. It seems like I am constantly finding new victims I have known. It's tough to have lived in the NYC area for 35+ years not to have known someone. I just lucky that no close friends or relatives were effected.
post #19 of 28
Oh boy do I know what you are talking about. I taught fitness in a whole bunch of clubs in the area of the WTC for about 9 years. Since moving to the Boston area, I've lost touch with people, but I have been fruitlessly trying to find out if former students and co-workers are okay. To be honest, I had a student from Stamford who worked in the Financial center, which is why I asked the question.

Getting back to altitude sickness, the main problem seems to be the fact that you can't
predict whether you are susceptible.

So, on a lighter note, where are you going?
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm going to Summit County. I just haven't figured if I'm going for a long weekend in Nov. 16-18 or if early Dec 6-10 will be my first trip out. I just remember going out and skiing at Keystone last November and thinking it wasn't really worth the money. I'd rather spend the money getting a time share at Mt. Snow.
post #21 of 28
Just FWIW, we live in Summit County, and have visitors from the east frequently. My sister-in-law has visited numerous times without problems, but on one occasion she DID--while we were in Estes Park, 2000 feet LOWER than home. So just because you've never had problems apparently doesn't guarantee that you won't. Diamox IS effective and cheap.
post #22 of 28

There was a blurb on the news the other night that a side affect of viagra is that it helps produce red blood cells and will ease acclimitation.

And thats the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
post #23 of 28
-"altitude doesn't start till you're over 20000ft..." - overheard from a guide during my wanderings in alaska...

climb high and sleep low is a standard form of aclimatization; it gives your body time to generate more cells.

lately i've been thinking AMS has more to do with your mind than anything else; but what do i know...

post #24 of 28
Of all the posts here I think there were only two that mentioned getting in shape before you go. That's the key man. And you don't need to be running 20 miles a day. Just go out and play BBALL for a hour every other day and maybe run a few miles every other day. Sure you could take some drugs, why not sacrifice your liver and kidney's for a few days of skiing? You could also walk around wearing an oxygen tank.
post #25 of 28
The other altitude sickness drug kb1dqh was looking for I believe is Dexamethasone - - aka Decadron. My daughter and I have used both Decadron and Diamox. Better results and fewer side effects with Decadron. But as Lisamarie says the downside is you don't know if altitude will affect you until it has, and then it's almost too late. We learned that the hard way. Some good stuff on the web if you search for altitude sickness or AMS(Acute Mountain Sickness)
As others have mentioned, being in decent shape and hydrating are also helpful.
post #26 of 28
I'll second the "sleep high" idea. I used to live in Golden at about 5800 ft. Family and friends visiting from lower elevations seemed to have more problems skiing at 10,000 ft while staying at my house than they do when they visit now. Now I live at 9130 feet.

This could be wrong, but it's what I've noticed.
post #27 of 28
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by fudman:
Of all the posts here I think there were only two that mentioned getting in shape before you go. That's the key man. And you don't need to be running 20 miles a day. Just go out and play BBALL for a hour every other day and maybe run a few miles every other day. Sure you could take some drugs, why not sacrifice your liver and kidney's for a few days of skiing? You could also walk around wearing an oxygen tank.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

If only it was that easy. Some folks can be in great shape and get hammered by altitude. Definitely being in shape will make your time at elevation more enjoyable, but it will not prevent AMS. That's pretty well referenced in the mountaneering texts and practical experience.
post #28 of 28
I have heard that ginsing helps. I can't confirm this as I am pretty well aclimated without it.
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