Go Back Fly book Forums > Travel&Dining > TravelBuzz
Reload this Page > Altitude sickness - how high is high?

Altitude sickness - how high is high?

Reply

Old Jan 10, 04, 7:20 pm
#1
Original Poster

Join Date: Aug 2002
Programs: AA EXP "Life is good! Really good.""
Posts: 4,919
Altitude sickness - how high is high?

Isn't the plane pressurized to 5,000 feet, so another few thousand wouldn't make much difference?

Phoenix to Taos (-8,000 ft)in 4 hours New Years Eve day, welcome glass or two of wine on arrival, and an hour later a splitting headache, felt like head was going to explode from pressure, nausea, etc. This happened the next day after lunch (2 glasses cab) and again in the evening. Friends from Denver recognized the signs right away and kept me drinking water, but we declined staying over for an extra day.

I've been to Taos 4 or 5 times and nothing like this has happened before. Also taken trains to several higher mountains in Switzerland with no bad results, baut was younger then.

Does this mean I'm doomed to be a flatlander? Or is it a just one time oddball thing? I don't have enough vacation time to acclimatize. Would I have been okay without drinking?

There is medicine, does anyone know if it works? Should I worry about going to San Miguel de Allende 6,500 feet if I don't go via Mexico City?
lili is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 10, 04, 9:05 pm
#2
Fly book Evangelist

Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: HKG
Programs: Priority Club Plat
Posts: 12,311
Just stay away from the alcohol. It can make things much much worse. And in general, there is really no effect on the body up to about 7,000 ft. Once passed that, and some people will start having altitude sickness. It also takes several hours for the effect to start, and therefore one doesn't feel it when visiting some peaks in Switzerland during the day, or crossing I-70 in Colorado.
rkkwan is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 11, 04, 4:14 am
#3

Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Munich, Germany
Programs: UA
Posts: 1,077
Also your body adjusts to it differently each time depending on how you felt before you came there.
I used to get very short breath in the Colorado Rockies (could not walk up a flight of stairs despite exercising 2 hours at home every day), felt tired after everything and drank 24/7.
Recently I was a few times in Snowmass, and every time I felt great. Matter of fact, I have chronic bronchitis, but up there I had neither trouble breathing nor did I cough much.
It also has something to do with age, my mother has more and more trouble adjusting to high altitudes (as to different climates)
Daydream is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 11, 04, 8:33 am
#4

Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Orlando, FL, US
Programs: DL-Dirt Medallion;US-Cast Iron Preferred; HH-Gold; Avis First
Posts: 3,605
Airliners are required to be presurized to a cabin altitude of 8000 feet or less. Your Denver friends were right about the water, it is very important to stay hydrated at altitude. In places like Denver, where it is very dry, that requires more water than many of us are used to drinking.
djk7 is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 11, 04, 12:39 pm
#5
Fly book Evangelist

Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Over the Bay Bridge, CA
Programs: Jumbo mas
Posts: 28,269
15,000' made me quite crappy feeling recently - I'd say the light-headedness started at about 12,000, but by 14, the headache was pretty bad, and lasted until a good nights' sleep at sea level.
Eastbay1K is online now
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 11, 04, 1:14 pm
#6

Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 3,601
Some relevant info here.

I find myself drinking water at 3x the usual rate when cycling at altitude (CO, UT), especially shortly after arrival, with slight warning symptoms starting around 7-8,000ft.
monahos is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 11, 04, 1:53 pm
#7

Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: London, England.
Programs: BA
Posts: 7,021
I think the amount of effort you are expending has something to do with it. remember renting bicycles in Santa Fe NM (6,000 feet) and having to slow down after a few minutes.

On the other hand I've piloted skydiving planes (unpressurised of course!) to 13,000 feet and back down to sea level again, up and down every 30 minutes, and felt no effects (apart from the cold) at all. But the regular pilot had a long term problem develop with his ears.
WHBM is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 11, 04, 6:25 pm
#8

Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Denver, CO USA
Programs: UA-Gold, 1MM, Marriott Gold, Global Entry
Posts: 1,086
My livingroom floor is at 6200 ft....There are slowing effects even at this altitude depending on one's age... Vasal constrictors,
alcohol, caffeine, excessive carbs, all can contribute to depriving one's brain of O2.

I have frequent guests from all over the world, I usually meet them at the airport with a bottle of water. As mentioned earlier...
Hydration is primary.
Pegasus23 is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 11, 04, 8:30 pm
#9

Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: WDC
Programs: AA PLT, *WOOD GLD, LAB Lider Elite
Posts: 17
You could try taking Diamox...check with your doc for a prescription. I travel from sea level to La Paz, Bolivia (13,500 ft)a few times a year and I'm always a bit groggy and lightheaded the first day. I tend to drink a litre of water on the flight down and 2-3 litres of water per day. I also pace myself to walk slower and not eat heavy meals in the evening. A little tylenol also helps mask the pain.
pmotes456 is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 12, 04, 5:02 pm
#10

Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Somewhere west of the Atlantic Ocean and east of the Pacific Ocean...
Programs: Elite of none; flyer of many
Posts: 1,232
Just wondering Eastbay, where you were where you went to 15,000 ft?

Thanks,
N674UW
N674UW is online now
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 12, 04, 7:22 pm
#11
Fly book Evangelist

Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Over the Bay Bridge, CA
Programs: Jumbo mas
Posts: 28,269
Lago Chungará (Lauca National Park, Chile) -just over 4.500m (and the road there goes a bit higher).

http://wsu.edu:8080/~long/LChungara.html
Eastbay1K is online now
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 12, 04, 10:57 pm
#12
Original Poster

Join Date: Aug 2002
Programs: AA EXP "Life is good! Really good.""
Posts: 4,919
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Pegasus23:
My livingroom floor is at 6200 ft....There are slowing effects even at this altitude depending on one's age... Vasal constrictors,
alcohol, caffeine, excessive carbs, all can contribute to depriving one's brain of O2.
</font>
That's a little scary as my next trip is San Miguel de Allende, 6,500 feet. I have age, high blood pressure, and an inclination towards carbs and alcohol. Shall have to reform for a week or two. Thanks all, will hydrate excessively and nurse the Modelo.

lili is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 12, 04, 11:42 pm
#13

Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Austin, TX -- AA PLT 2.8MM+ (life PLT); IHG PLT Ambassador; UA Gold
Posts: 5,276
Definitely felt the altitude effects this weekend at the top of Haleakala. We went from sea level to 10000 feet in ~1 hr. Felt woozy just walking up the ramp to the summit house! We then descended to 6500 feet and rode the rest of the way down on bicycles.. what a rush!

Anything over 12k feet affects me pretty severe. I was sick as a dog doing the Inca Trail to Macchu Piccu a few years ago.. at the highest pass at 14k feet I had to literally crawl over on my hands and knees.


[This message has been edited by hauteboy (edited Jan 12, 2004).]
hauteboy is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 13, 04, 9:12 am
#14

Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Richmond, Va, USA
Programs: US CP, *wood Gold, Marriott gold, Hilton something
Posts: 1,412
We have a family place out in CO where the living room is right at 10,000. I have pretty bad ashtma and its always interesting how the altitude affects me. I dont get a headache or nausa, but I do find that I don't sleep well.
I've been told that its mild sleep apneia (spelling?) b/c of shortness of breath.

I've been to the oxygen bars and found them to be a trendy ripoff. I've also noticed that 2 martinis hit me a lot harder out ther than they do here... but hey, that's a good thing, right?

You develop more red blood cells to compensate for the oxygen loss, so after a week or two at altitude, you are in a better position to start working out or to bump up your workout when you get home... At least I always find it easier.

-N
SpaceBass is offline
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 13, 04, 11:26 am
#15

Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Worcester, MA
Programs: AA PLT
Posts: 668
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by SpaceBass:

You develop more red blood cells to compensate for the oxygen loss, so after a week or two at altitude, you are in a better position to start working out or to bump up your workout when you get home... At least I always find it easier.

-N
</font>

Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit longer than that for more red blood cells to develop. But you can still feel better when you get home, because you are breathing more oxygen

Altitude sickness is complicated, and some aspects of it are still poorly understood. If your only symptom is a headaches, it will go away after a day or two as long as you don't go any higher. Avoiding alcohol is important because intoxication can mask or mimic more serious symptoms (such as loss of coordination). Hydration, as previously noted, is very important. I wouldn't use Diamox below about 13,000 feet.
trekker is offline
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 6:52 pm.

Home - News - Forum - Hotel Reviews - Glossary - Contact Us - Airport Code Lookup - Terms of Use - Privacy Policy - Cookie Policy - Advertise on FlyerTalk - Archive - Top

This site is owned, operated, and maintained by flybook.biz. Copyright © 2017 flybook.biz. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners.