We Don't Talk About Altitude Sickness Enough

Discussion in 'General Skiing' started by Tricia, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Posts:
    6,831
    Location:
    Tahoe
    Most of us have either suffered from Acute Altitude Sickness or we're close to someone who has suffered from it.

    For many of us, its as easy as hydrating, getting oxygen, replacing electrolytes, refraining from drinking, getting enough sleep, and/or going back to lower elevation.

    This story from this past week near Aspen raises our attention to the real dangers of Acute Mountain Sickness.
    Signs point to this 20 year old woman dying from acute altitude sickness while hiking with her friends.

    I have talked to Dr David Polaner about his article RE: Acute Mountain Sickness, which he presented during an ESA event several years ago. He has given me permission to post the article here, which is a good reference

    If you are looking for more information, please reference this thread.
    https://forum.pugski.com/threads/acute-mountain-sickness-©-2006-d-m-polaner.5734/
    Dr David Polaner is continuing his research as a pulmonologist and will be updating his article in the future.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
    tball, Olesya C, Gerry and 6 others like this.
  2. Pat AKA mustski

    Pat AKA mustski Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2015
    Posts:
    494
    Location:
    Oceanside, California
    I feel fortunate that I do well at altitude. The worst symptom I've had is low energy and a feeling of extreme fatigue. We were camping in the Rocky Mountain National Park in CO. I don't remember the exact altitude but it was near 10,000 ft. I did not even have the energy to take the dogs for an easy stroll. It was two days before I felt human. I can't imagine how bad acute altitude sickness feels!
     
  3. eok

    eok Slopefossil Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2015
    Posts:
    142
    Location:
    Central Oregon
    I can attest that AMS can sneak up on you if you don't respect it. It has happened to me a few times, with symptoms of fatigue, periods of dizziness and headache. Each time I got the clue and headed for lower altitude. It's so unpredictable. Most ski days I can head up to the mountain and take the chairs up to ~9000ft 1st thing. But every once in a blue moon my body can't tolerate the change - even though I'm feeling great getting on the lift for the ride up.

    Also, when folks come to visit during the ski season, they'll sometimes stay at a condo/lodge nearer the resort - which is at 4000-5000ft. It's pretty common for one or more of the folks to go through the fatigue phase the first couple days or so, which puts a bit of a damper on things for them.

    So, this does touch on a little discussed reality for ski vacation planning: it's wise to include some degree of elevation acclimatization time in the schedule and your skiing strategy.
     
    Pat AKA mustski likes this.
  4. Tony S

    Tony S aka qcanoe Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2015
    Posts:
    1,025
    Location:
    Maine
    Grump and Salina! You listening? Huh?
     
    KingGrump likes this.
  5. Blue Streak

    Blue Streak Behind the Epic Curtain Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,511
    Location:
    West Vail
    Good article.
     
  6. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,840
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario,/ Mont Tremblant, Quebec
    I suffer from this. Breathing and sleeping are the problems. Interesting article. Might talk to Doc about the med he recommends.
     
  7. scott43

    scott43 Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    2,028
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    So we booked our trip with the kid..and it does occur to me that he can't really tell us what's wrong with him. Sooo...have to keep an eye on him..and we're doing a staged altitude approach to try and get him acclimatized properly..few days in Denver, few days higher up but in the valley, then up to base elevation. Fingers crossed..
     
    coskigirl and SBrown like this.
  8. Tico

    Tico Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    55
  9. Kneale Brownson

    Kneale Brownson Out on the slopes Instructor

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    476
    I used Diamox for years to prepare for visiting higher altitudes when I came from 660 feet above sea level. You need a prescription. If you print out the symptoms listed on the AMS page and highlight what you've experienced to show your physician, you should get the prescription. If you don't, see another physician.
     
    oldschoolskier likes this.
  10. oldschoolskier

    oldschoolskier Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2015
    Posts:
    851
    Location:
    Ontario Canada
    Tricia, :beercheer: Smart move in shouting the word out.

    Simple advise like this is why I follow Pugski.
     
    VickiK, Gerry and Tricia like this.
  11. KingGrump

    KingGrump Most Interesting Man In The World Team Gathermeister

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,314
    Location:
    NYC
    I hear ya. Just have to remind me next time I ski with you. I know I will forget by then.

    Regardless, I still think you young folks skied with way too much vigor. Have to give gravity a chance to suck. :duck::cool:
     
    Monique likes this.
  12. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,840
    Location:
    Belleville, Ontario,/ Mont Tremblant, Quebec
    Not a problem....doc is a skier, so she knows! But AMS is one of the many reasons I'm not thinking about the Utah trip this coming season.
     
  13. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Posts:
    1,286
    Location:
    CT but my heart's in Vermont
    I feel lucky on this front as all I ever experience is a slight headache and a little fatigue. I do my best to hydrate the hell out of myself before I go and I'm good. I've been with friends who've been really sick when we've been at elevation and it definitely sucks.
     
  14. noncrazycanuck

    noncrazycanuck Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2017
    Posts:
    111
    We live at sea level.
    One of my daughters has a problem with altitude so much that after landing in Peru even Lima was a problem, she had to go to the coast.
    Later did as the locals, chewed coco leaves or drank the tea while hiking and managed 18000 feet.
    Coco leaves can be processed into cocaine and therefore raw leaves are not legal to import but the tea is sold in a lot of stores locally or can be ordered on line.
    It seems like a bit of a folk remedy but did work well in the Andes.
     
  15. Ron

    Ron AKA Finndog Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    Posts:
    3,145
    Location:
    Steamboat Springs, Co
    The number of folks who end up in the ER on vacation with Dehydration and altitude sickness may surprise many! I have had conversations with ER staff about what they see. Too often folks come into town from low level locations and proceed to drink too much coffee, alcohol and not nearly enough water, The result is not only altitude sickness but quite often its dehydration. Thats a topic that never gets discussed. People not drinking enough water AND not using humidifiers in their hotel/condos is a recipe for a trip to the ER.
     
    SkiNurse, jimmy and coskigirl like this.
  16. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Posts:
    6,831
    Location:
    Tahoe
    I hadn't heard of the Coco leaves, or tea. Thanks for that bit of information

    I used to travel with someone who had Sarcoidosis, which effected his lungs. He had critical symptoms of AMS when we traveled from Michigan to Summit/Eagle County, so we went to the local health food store in Frisco, which had some natural remedies. As you can imagine, they had a fairly decent selection and a ton of knowledge about AMS at this natural food store.
    He ended up taking this natural remedy a week prior to traveling to altitude and throughout the trip, which made all the difference in the world.
    New Chapter Breathe
     
  17. Ron

    Ron AKA Finndog Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    Posts:
    3,145
    Location:
    Steamboat Springs, Co
    if a person has symptoms of AMS, they should go to the ER or see a DR ASAP.
     
    Eleeski likes this.
  18. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Posts:
    6,831
    Location:
    Tahoe
    We keep a humidifier in our guest rooms for that very reason.
    It may not seem like much but our back yard is at 5,600 ft.
     
  19. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Posts:
    6,831
    Location:
    Tahoe
    Absolutely.
    RE: the story of Terry and AMS in my previous post was before I (or many of us) were knowledgeable about the severity of it. That is (in part) why I thought this was a topic worth bringing up.
     
  20. Eleeski

    Eleeski Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    833
    Location:
    San Diego / skis at Squaw Valley
    The FAA mandates oxygen any time a pilot flies over 12,500 feet. Obviously, people differ and acclimatization can improve altitude tolerance. But the 12,500 number works well enough to keep planes from falling out of the sky.

    The Tahoe resorts are relatively low so skiing is not a huge issue for me even though my home lake is below sea level so (I start from a disadvantage). I am rather altitude sensitive - my lips and fingernails turn blue flying at 12,500 and I was worthless at the top of Pike's Peak. After a couple days my endurance in the mountains is the same as at home - pathetic.

    On an interesting note, I heard a lecture by a high altitude specialist doctor. He discussed symptoms, medicines and treatments. One unusual treatment was to sometimes let blood to relieve altitude sickness. My hemocrit levels are naturally on the high side so I donate blood regularly - as much for my own health as for the need for blood. I find my altitude tolerance goes up after I donate blood. Certainly not for everyone but maybe worth a chat with your doctor.

    Definitely drink lots of fluids. But beer doesn't work well for long term hydration. Nor does water that gives you stomach problems (I'm sticking with bottled water at Squaw). Scotch and rum?!

    Eric
     
    skibob likes this.

Share This Page

We respect your privacy. your information is safe and will never be shared