Altitude sickness

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Snickerdoodle
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 142
   Posted 1/27/2009 11:59 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey everyone-
Just curious if anyone has done any traveling to high altitudes. I am going in a month to a friends wedding in Colorado. The elevation is about 9,000 ft. I was doing some research seeing if I should be more worried about getting sick because we are flying in, only there for 4 days so I wont have time to get used to the altitude, and just because of my inflammatory condition. They have a drug you can take Acetazolamide that will help to acclimate you to the height. You have to start it a few days before going. They also say to drink water and a few other things..... It also says 21% of people have mild symptoms. Not sure if I am at risk, and I dont want to have feel miserable. Should I make appt with my PMD to get an Rx or am I worrying too much? Just wondered if anyone else had any experience with the altitudes...
Thanks
Melissa
Dx: UCTD vs autoimmune spondyloarthropathy vs psoriatic arthritis (ie Limbo x5 yrs) Raynaud's, proteinuria
Rx: Plaquenil 400mg, Ultram PRN, Sulfasalazine 2 gram


omega
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 607
   Posted 1/28/2009 3:50 AM (GMT -7)   
I had gotten sick before when travelling to high altitudes. I felt dizzy and tired. Then I went back down immediately and did not go up. I forgot how high it was, but surely it's quite high. That time I was travelling up to a snow mountain in France. I would consult your PMD and I do not think you are worrying too much. I now would not go up to high mountains anymore.
DX SLE 1988; APS (Antiphospholipid Syndrome) Pred 10mg, Verapmil 40 mg bd (for migraine headaches), Cellcept 1000 mg;Omerprazole 40 mg; Warfarin; Calcium + Vitamin D 1200mg, Folic Acid 5 mg; Iron; Simvastin; Oxycontine 10mg; pregablin 150mg


Melissa D.
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 342
   Posted 1/28/2009 5:50 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Melissa,

I have definitely been there! We traveled to Vail and Snowmass, I experienced altitude sickness, light headedness and nausea. Wierd thing is I have also traveled to Purgatory (I know some believe that's where I belong and not the one in Colorado..hehe) and did not get sick at all. I suppose Vail and Snowmass are higher.

Who knows, perhaps it was my body at the time or perhaps it was the altitude, no way of knowing.

Melissa
Lupus - 1997   Fibro - 2001    Sjorens  -  2007   Raynauds  -  2008
Plaquenil, Imuran, Prednisone, Synthroid, Topomax, Effexor, Norco, Prilsec, Xanex, Elidel, Restasis


hippimom2
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Date Joined Jul 2005
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   Posted 1/28/2009 8:16 AM (GMT -7)   
My family andI usually go to Breckenridge every summer and the longer I have lupus, the harder time I have adjusting to the altitude. It's too bad you don't have a little more time to acclimate. I usually make sure to really take it easy my first day there and yes, do drink a lot of water and just don't overdo it. It will be really important for you to listen to your body. I've never heard of the med you mentioned but if it doesn't conflict with any of your other meds, it might be worth a try. I love the mountains. Many many years ago I was a ski bum in Breckenridge for a few years before I went to college (I was still fairly healthy then).
Diagnosis:  UCTD (lupus) 2006; Raynauds 2006; Sjogren's 2006; lupus symptoms began 2003; UC 2008; CFS 1991; Mono 1985
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PattyLatty
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Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 2570
   Posted 1/28/2009 8:34 AM (GMT -7)   
I flew to Denver three years ago when my dad was visiting my brother and SIL and had a heart attack. It was during my sickest time when I was taking 60mg of prednisone. I was there for a week and didn't experience any problems with the altitude. In fact it never entered my mind. I hope you do ok.
SLE, osteoarthritis, fibro, renauds, restless leg, hiatal hernia, double vision, migraines, costocondritis, gluten intolerance.

prednisone, plaquenil, arava, neurontin, synthroid, triamterene, actonel, tri-est, imitrex (for rare migraines), cymbalta, tricor, acifex, multivitamin, calcium w vit D, fish oil, aspirin


Bsime
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1299
   Posted 1/28/2009 5:29 PM (GMT -7)   
Been as high as 10500 feet with no problems. 
 
If you have some type of lung problem traveling at a high elevation might be a problem but that would apply to a luper or non luper.  Otherwise it should not affect your lupus.  No matter who you are or how fit you are or if you are completely healthy you will still require time to adjust to higher elevations.
 
Bill
 
 

Snickerdoodle
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 142
   Posted 1/28/2009 8:32 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks all for your input.

Hippi I was just looking up altitude sickness and it mentioned on all the sites this drug to prevent it. Maybe you could go back to your college days with it and enjoy the mountains! It works kinda of as a diuretic to increase bicarb output in your kidneys due to increased CO2. So Bill even healthy people without lung problems have issues because they are not used to the different in O2 concentration. They said 21% of healthy adults have mild symptoms. (Not to mention moderate to severe). Healthy peoples O2 levels can drop into the 70s at night (norm is >95%)! They also said people with autoimmune conditions should not travel to high altitides but did not specify why.... I am thinking all this puts me at higher risk. Patty I also see that they give steroids in conjunction with the other med so that may be why it didnt bother you, or maybe it never would have!
I suppose I will have to drag myself into my PMDs office! Thats the thing though is that you have to start taking these meds a few days prior to travel so I will never know if they helped or if I even needed them!

Thanks again all!
Melissa
Dx: UCTD vs autoimmune spondyloarthropathy vs psoriatic arthritis (ie Limbo x5 yrs) Raynaud's, proteinuria
Rx: Plaquenil 400mg, Ultram PRN, Sulfasalazine 2 gram


Bsime
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1299
   Posted 1/28/2009 8:59 PM (GMT -7)   
Melissa,
 
Stats don't count in altitude sickness.  I have spent my life skiing, mountain climbing and hiking at high altitude.  Anyone who is a climber can tell you that altitude sickness is unpredictable and I personally don't think having an auto immune disease makes any difference.  There are plenty of people with lupus and other AI diseases who live at altitude.
 
Adjustment to altitude takes time for your blood to produce more RBCs to carry more oxygen and to increase lung capacity.  There is an initial adjustment in about 3 days for most sea level dwellers but a more permanent one takes months.  The sherpas who help climbers in the Himalayas have adjusted over centuries and many generations and are the only people who can live and work comfortably at such high altitudes. You are going to a high altitude but rather low by comparison.
 
I have been at 10000+ 3 times since getting MCTD and had no problems related to the disease and plan to go climbing this summer in the Sierras.  The shortness of breathe I experienced is no different from when I was healthy and in excellent shape.  Maybe you would not want to climb Everest or K2 but 9000' should be OK.
 
As for taking meds....try to take aspirin.  It is the old climbers antidote for altitude and works if you start it a day or two before going.  Also stay hydrated...lots of water.  Sometimes nothing helps.  The worst symptoms you should encounter are sleepless nights and shortness of breathe if climbing stairs, etc.  Severe altitude symptoms are rare at 9000'.
 
Go and enjoy the wedding.  My youngest son got married at 10,500 in norther Arizona 8 years ago and it was spectacular watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon.
 
By the way, Vail/Beaver Creek are about 8000" and Purgatory is about 8800' at their respective bases.
 
My comments are based on real life experience over 50 years and not on a google search.  Enjoy and don't worry so much.
 
Bill

okie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 2818
   Posted 1/28/2009 9:42 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Melissa, all I know about altitude is that I lived in arizona for 25 years. I was a flatlander for a few years and slowly made my way up to flagstaff 7000 ft. and my son was a fireman at the grandcanyon. Every time I moved a little higher it took me a few days to a week to get used to the elphant on my chest. That's when I was healthy. I've flown in Helicopters and two seaters and 747's. I never had a problem. even since I got sick. All I can say is it seems to be about 50/50 on here with people getting sick or not. That's one thing about this disease it is an equal opportunity attacker. skull . You know there are people on here that have lived with a rash every day for years and I have never had one to speak of. I don't see any thing wrong with checking with your dr. If it helps you relax that's half the battle. You want to go and have a great time so do what you have to do to put your mind at ease.

I just hope you get there and have a blast! Let us know how it goes

hugs



 CAROL
Possible scleroderma.  stage 4 COPD, sleep apnea, Osteoporosis,osteoarthritis
Prednisone,plaquanil400mg,azythromyacin,vicodin 4x5mg,Evista60mg, Effexor 150mg,Xanax 1.0 x3,Singular,nitro spray, provigil 200mg spirivia,aciphex,lasix ,pot.chlor.,B12 ,iNDEROL
 
Bear ye one another's burdens
Galatians 6:2 KJV

 
 


Bsime
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1299
   Posted 1/29/2009 1:23 PM (GMT -7)   
Okie,
 
I thought you lived in OK.  My son went to grad school in Flagstaff and lived there for many years.  He returned there to get married even though he was living in Alaska at the time.  They rented the day lodge at Snowbowl and had the wedding outside while the sun set over the Grand Canyon.  He returns there frequentlly as a climate scientist and is doing his doctoral dissertation based on data collected in the peaks and still has a close association with NAU.  We love the area ourselves and have hiked and climbed there many times.  Beautiful part of the world.
 
Bill

okie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 2818
   Posted 1/29/2009 9:12 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Bill! Wow that's cool. Yeah I lived right at the base of the mountain. I worked for the city of flagstaff. You know where you come into town there is a huge library on one side of the street and city hall on the other? That's where I met my husband we both worked for the city. You are right I have lived in oklahoma for the past three years. We lived up by Prescott when my hubby past away. I tried to hold on as long as I could but making payments got hard so I sold my place and bought a place here for cash. Az. is my home though. My hubby is buried at the veteran cemetary north of phoenix. My parents live in tempe, my oldest brother owns a paint company in apache junction. If your son ever needs a painter lol. and my other bro lives in Mesa. My son was working as a firefighter/emt at the Grand canyon airport on 9/11. I used to go up there because since he worked there I got to fly the canyon for free which is the only way I could afford it. I actually have a daughter named Sedona. NAU is a great place to go to school. There were a lot of decent kids when I lived there. Hey thanks for the stroll down memory lane. If this tranplant happens I'm going back and doing some climbing.

Melissa I didn't mean to take up the board. I got carried away. I hope you have a great time.

love ya guys

carol


 CAROL
Possible scleroderma.  stage 4 COPD, sleep apnea, Osteoporosis,osteoarthritis
Prednisone,plaquanil400mg,azythromyacin,vicodin 4x5mg,Evista60mg, Effexor 150mg,Xanax 1.0 x3,Singular,nitro spray, provigil 200mg spirivia,aciphex,lasix ,pot.chlor.,B12 ,iNDEROL
 
Bear ye one another's burdens
Galatians 6:2 KJV

 
 


Snickerdoodle
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 142
   Posted 1/29/2009 10:06 PM (GMT -7)   
Okie no problem about the side conversation! Thats why we are all here. It sucks talking about being sick and feeling like crap all the time!

Bill I love your insight and knowledge on everything. You are very well read on your disease. But I wanted to point out that sats (for oxygen saturation not stat for statistics) matter. That is why people are short of breath in higher altitude travel, there Sa02 is lower. When your oxygen drops below 90 you can feel it. As for people living in high altitudes and traveling to high altitudes there is a huge difference! Just as you said you are more acclimated to the area. And it is not only your RBCs that have a problem with the decrease oxygen and carrying extra 02. The hypoxemia causes your body to over produce bicarbonate causing respiratory alkalosis, which is deadly. Some symptoms of resp alkalosis are nausea, headache, insomnia, reduced urine output, and fatigue (same as mountain sickness because thats what it is). Bicarb is filtered out through the kidneys. Those with kidney issues (which I have mildy) and anemia (due to lower O2 carrying capacity) are also at greater risk. My knowledge is medical knowledge, as I am a nurse. Although I did have to "google" altitude sickness being that we dont treat that in our area. So thank you for your encouragement. And I do appreciate your comments, and you have traveled to altitudes many times before. You may be more acclimated to the changes. I have never traveled to high altitudes. I would probably be worried about this even without the AI. I appreciate your suggestion regarding the aspirin. I am on sulfasalazine which is an aspirin derivative so that does give me piece of mind. Although I am curious as to how it works..... I dont see it working as much more than an analgesic for the headaches and body aches. Thinner blood wouldnt really have any benefit.

Thanks again all!
Melissa
Dx: UCTD vs autoimmune spondyloarthropathy vs psoriatic arthritis (ie Limbo x5 yrs) Raynaud's, proteinuria
Rx: Plaquenil 400mg, Ultram PRN, Sulfasalazine 2 gram


Bsime
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1299
   Posted 1/29/2009 10:25 PM (GMT -7)   
Melissa,
 
My knowledge of coping with altitude is strictly experiential.  I have spent little time at altitude in recent years and any acclimatization I might have had is long gone.  I don't know how aspirin works but it does in most cases.  I always started at least a day before and never had problems.  Some of my friends have climbed truly high altitudes and suggested it.  That was before other meds were available.  I am not sure what climbers take these days.
 
I would not worry about going to altitude.  If you do have a problem you are already taking a med that will help and remember to drink lots of liquid and avoid alcohol.
 
There is a lot of mystery about altitude sickness and treatment.  Of course you could do what the indians of the altiplano do...chew coca leaves.  LOL...not a recommended solution but it has worked for them for centuries.  Or maybe it is just that their bodies have evolved to the high altitude environment.
 
Bill
 
 

Janieh
New Member


Date Joined Jul 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 7/1/2011 8:29 AM (GMT -7)   
One thing that hasn't been mentioned (or I didn't see it) is that most people with lupus are photosensitive. At higher elevations, you will get more UV rays because there is less air to filter it. This can cause flares.

Also, it you already experience fatigue, know that with the combination of less air and more sun, you may experience altitude fatigue to a greater extent than a person who is perfectly healthy.

Changes in elevation may also cause some people to experience arthritis changes just as changes in weather do for some. I don't think anyone knows why and it doesn't happen to everyone.

I just got back from Flagstaff/Grand Canyon (I live in Phoenix). I was very fatigued there (as I knew I would be) and now, although I used sun block, I have rashes and achey muscles. I hope I have nothing else. /-:
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