Stay Informed about Altitude Illness or AMS, (Acute Mountain Sickness). Ask about Advice and Prescriptions for Altitude Illness from our on-call Physician Dr. David J. Gray MD.
These are general terms to describe how one might feel when visiting Summit County, Grand County or Eagle County, Colorado, where the average elevation is over 9000ft. Visitors to the Central Rockies may feel the effects of the high altitude whether you come here to go skiing in the winter or biking in the summer. Altitude sickness occurs because the body is used to receiving 96% to 99% oxygen at sea level. When visiting the higher elevations the body receives less oxygen and therefore you may feel ill.
Symptoms of AMS include:
If the symptoms progress; left untreated it can result in
An interesting article was written by an author who lives at sea level and visited a couple higher elevation oxygen bars.
The number one problem most people have when getting to higher elevation is lack of hydration. Staying hydrated is essential to your body’s health when staying at high altitude. Your body will naturally excrete fluids at altitude, thereby causing the blood to thicken, this will concentrate the red blood cells in our veins and arteries. The higher density of red blood cells means we can pick up more oxygen. Hydration is extremely important to ensure proper functioning of your respiratory system. It is recommended that you drink at least one gallon of water per day to avoid dehydration due to this effect. You must drink water constantly at altitude because your body will continue to excrete fluid as it tries to adjust to these changes.
Oxygen is used to treat AMS and Altitude Illness. Using just a small amount of oxygen will do wonders for the body. A treatment level of 2 liters per minute (LPM) is common for most Adults and 1-2 (LPM) is good for most children. Using oxygen when you first arrive will prevent any symptoms from occurring. If you already have symptoms such as a headache, nausea or fatigue most will go away in a short period of time. Headaches have been known to go away in less than 15 minutes. When visiting, many people will sleep with oxygen which allows the body to adjust to the high altitude while you sleep. Additionally, when sleeping with oxygen, it’s as if you are sleeping at sea level, resulting in a more restful night sleep. The best equipment for sleeping with oxygen is oxygen concentrator. Oxygen concentrators produce their own oxygen and will never run out.
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