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Altitude Questions
 
  1. What is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?
  2. What are the affects of Acute Mountain Sickness?
  3. What causes Acute Mountain Sickness?
  4. How prevalent is Acute Mountain Sickness amongst visitors to the High Country?
  5. Who is the most susceptible to Acute Mountain Sickness in high altitude environments?
  6. What are the benefits of breathing concentrated oxygen in high altitude environments?
  7. Along with breathing concentrated oxygen, what can I do to make the transition from sea level to high altitude more comfortable?

  1. What is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

    Acute Mountain sickness more commonly known as Altitude Sickness is an illness that affects people who ascend into high altitude environments too quickly.  The diseases is most commonly found in skiers, hikers or other travelers because of the tendency to ascend from low elevations to above 8,000 feet very quickly.  It is especially common in individuals who live at sea level because they have experienced the greatest change in altitude while traveling to their destination.


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  2. What are the affects of Acute Mountain Sickness?

    Typically the first reported symptoms of AMS are headaches and shortness of breathe.  However most people affected by AMS also report a variety of symptoms including; nausea, irritability, loss of appetite, poor mental performance and judgment, lack of energy and worst of all the inability to sleep.  Especially for vacationers the inability to sleep can be very detrimental because it ensures you will feel lousy the following day.


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  3. What causes Acute Mountain Sickness?

    Acute Mountain sickness is the result of high altitude environments with depleted oxygen levels, at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) people itake about 40% less oxygen per breath as they would at sea level.  Since the body still requires the same amount of Oxygen to complete physical tasks it must adjust to an Oxygen depleted environment.  Initially the breathing rate of the body will increase in an attempt to get more oxygen to the blood.  However, it is not possible for those recently exposed to high altitude to oxygenate their blood to the same concentration as at sea level.


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  4. How prevalent is Acute Mountain Sickness amongst visitors to the High Country?

    At 10,000 feet of elevation about 75% of visitors will report symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness.  For those visiting the Rocky Mountains it should be noted that in bounds skiing is offered as high as 13,000 feet with some major roads going over 14,000 feet.  The severity of the symptoms is usually influenced by elevation, rate of ascent and personal vulnerability.


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  5. Who is the most susceptible to Acute Mountain Sickness in high altitude environments?
    There are no demographic factors which affect a person’s susceptibility to Acute Mountain Sickness.  Accordingly, if you have never been to a high altitude environment it is recommended that you take proper precautions to avoid the debilitating affects of Altitude Sickness.
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  6. What are the benefits of breathing concentrated oxygen in high altitude environments?

    Along with carrying bottled Oxygen to combat the affects of altitude sickness, sleeping in an oxygenated room has been proven to be very helpful for visitors to high altitude environments.  Recent research has demonstrated that above 6,500 feet raising the oxygen concentration of a room by 1% effectively lowers the perceived altitude of that room by 1,000 feet.  In other words, sleeping in a room where the oxygen concentration has been in creased by 5% will make inhabitants of the room feel as if they are 5,000 feet lower in altitude.  Furthermore, visitors to high altitude tend to sleep better in oxygenated rooms than in ambient air.  Those sleeping in oxygenated rooms typically fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, wake up less often and feel more refreshed upon waking up the next day.

    Click here to read about a study supporting the use of oxygen enriched air at altitude locations.


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  7. Along with breathing concentrated oxygen, what can I do to make the transition from sea level to high altitude more comfortable?

    The following suggestions often help people make an easier transition from sea level to high altitude.

     
    • Do not over exert yourself in the first 24 hours in altitude.
    • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
    • Remember everyone acclimates at a different pace.  Keep an eye on your friends and family members.
    • Avoid alcohol, tobacco and any other depressants.
    • Eat a high carbohydrate diet.
    • If symptoms persist or worsen contact a physician immediately!

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