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This is some good information that you may like to pass on to party members from an old friend about altitude sickness that some may experience when muzzle loading hunting or camping in the mountains of Colorado as well as any of the Rocky Mountain states.


Altitude Sickness


To answer your question on altitude sickness I’ll explain it as simple as possible without too many medical terms, they can be mind boggling.

Much of altitude sickness is from a degree of dehydration due to the dry air. You loose an incredible amount of water from your skin and breath. This contributes significantly to the weakness and lassitude. The headaches are from a degree of brain swelling which is not usually dangerous below 14k to 18k elevations, but has killed climbers at higher elevations. That is why most knowledgeable climbers carry there own inject able Decadron
(dexamethasone) a steroid which does reduce swelling of the brain.


As for the milder altitude problems that you get (and so do I if I'm not careful...I live at about 700 feet), I'll tell you what I do. I make sure that I get extra sleep when I fly to those mountains because sleep deprivation compounded by jet lag contributes to the altitude problems. I take 2 aspirin 3-4 times daily for the beginning a day before I arrive and for 2-3 days later. Aspirin has a significant anti-inflammatory effect and prevents clots both large and "micro". (I generally take 1-2 daily all the time because I seem to be prone to injuries from encounters with the 4-leggeds and I don't want to die suddenly from a blood clot that I didn't know I had.


A young lady friend of mine died agouti 6 weeks after an auto accident years ago because of a clot!). I make myself drink water far beyond what my thirst would dictate...a good measure of your degree of hydration is to watch your urine. It should appear nearly colorless, like water. The degree of color has to do with concentration, unless you are taking something that colors it like some vitamins. And finally, you should allow yourself at least one full day and preferably 2-3, to acclimate without strenuous activity. Make yourself walk each day several times...only 15minutes each the first day and then up to 30+.


I have flown into ski at 14,000 feet and have developed this scheme for myself because I
have, in the past, missed several days due to headache, nausea, etc. I have not had the problem since I began paying attention to the above issues. I have also reviewed the medical literature on this and so speak from both experience and known facts (which are few). Of course, you won't always have the luxury to do the 3 day adjustment, but knowing about it should encourage you to develop a plan that will lessen your chance of feeling rotten.


Hope this helps. By the way, if you have a problem with that much aspirin, even 1-2 per day have a significant impact. Ibuprofen and Tylenol do not!

Spotted Snake
(Bruce M. Ashley, MD)

Aux Ailments de Pays!


Until next time, we leave as friends and followers of those that went before us.

Buck Conner  

"One who trades”

"Uno quién negocia"

“Unqui commerce”