Are you huffing and puffing moreas you walk down the streets ofBreckenridge? Don’t worry. It’s normal.So is the fact that you’re peeing more(and if you’re not, you may not bedrinking enough water) and havingstrange dreams.About 20 percent to 30 percent ofpeople suffer from altitude sickness,according to a 1980s study at KeystoneResort in conjunction with local doc,James Bachman.At elevations above 6,000-8,000feet, the body needs to adjust to thedecreased availability of oxygen. Everybreath contains fewer molecules of oxygen,resulting in less oxygenated blood.The lack of oxygen in the blood causesextra blood to rush to the head, oftencausing headaches, nausea and shortnessof breath.Symptoms of altitude sickness includea headache with one of more of thefollowing:• loss of appetite and nauseaor vomiting• fatigue or weakness• dizziness or light-headedness• difficulty sleeping• confusion• staggering gaitFlu-like symptoms usually start withinthe first three days at high elevationand end by the fourth. It can happento anyone, though genetics, rate ofascent, alcohol and other depressants aswell as overdoing physical activity cancontribute to a person’s predisposition.Most symptoms diminish with rest andacclimatization, but if you have troublebreathing or thinking or have a severeheadache or nausea and vomiting, go toa clinic.
• Stay in Denver for a night or two if you’recoming up from sea level.• Avoid alcohol – it has a stronger effect inhigh elevations – and avoid sleeping pills andnarcotics.• Diamox taken one or two days prior to arrivalcan prepare the body for higher elevation byincreasing respiration rate.• Take it easy the first couple of days; physicalconditioning at sea level does not help.
• Once again, avoid alcohol and those depressants.They decrease respiration and makesymptoms worse.• Drink plenty of fluids.• Avoid intense exercise; mild exercise is OK.• 125 mg. of Diamox twice a day increasesrespiration.• Home oxygen relieves symptoms.• If nothing works, return to a lower elevation,such as Denver.
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