David Gray MD: Water and altitude sickness | SummitDaily.com

David Gray MD: Water and altitude sickness

Thanks for the opportunity to clarify; its important that we give visitors accurate information. In fact, Dr. Halcomb’s recommendation to drink fluids, and eat carbohydrates, referred to preventing altitude illness. My warning: Don’t tell visitors to drink fluids, as a blanket recommendation. If they’re already vomiting, it often only makes thing worse.

Here’s the deal: When the body is exposed to lower oxygen suddenly, as in flying up here to vacation, it automatically sends more blood and oxygen to the brain, heart and kidneys, diverting it from the intestines, muscle and bone. The intestines, consequently, are really starved for oxygen, and can’t do their job; they can’t move food, and can’t absorb food, so if you throw hard-to-digest stuff in there – like a big steak – it comes right back up. The intestines are on strike – often they even reject water. Visitors to our wonderful high country should prepare their intestines for low oxygen levels by eating “easy to digest” foods, i.e; high carb, low fat, low protein, no spice, no grease, for two days before they ascend.

So, Ms. Weseley, take another look at Ms. Corazzelli’s article – I think it will help with the perceived contradictions, if you keep in mind that some recommendations are for treatment of altitude illness, and others are for prevention. The bottom line for me is that we do a good, or better job, of helping visitors deal with the challenges of our high altitude.

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