Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Remedy for Altitude Sickness

Several years ago my husband and I took a hiking vacation to Breckenridge, Colorado (base elevation 9,600).  Breckenridge is a lovely town, with breathtaking views, but for someone living on the east coast it requires a bit of acclimating.  Upon arrival I did all the wrong things.  Let's just say I advise you not to do the following:
  • Do not drink alcohol until you have acclimated
  • Do not take sleeping aids--even if you can't sleep
  • Do not over-exert until you have acclimated
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages...like coffee!
  • Avoid salty foods
Yes, I did all of the above and paid for it, but I was lucky.  I was just down for 24 hours with nausea, headache, inability to sleep and dizziness.  I slowed down, ate right and by the end of our stay we had hiked a "thirteener" just outside Breckenridge.

Now I learn that in a study of hikers, those taking ibuprofen as a preventative measure had fewer incidents of altitude sickness than the hikers who were given a placebo.  While the study was a small one, ibuprofen is cheaper and safer than the standard medications for altitude sickness.

Moral of the story, if you are traveling to high altitudes, it can't hurt to take some ibuprofen to minimize the risk of altitude sickness.

In good health...

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