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Mountaineering The Mountaineering forum is for discussion that relates directly to mountaineering (alpinism, climbing).


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  #1  
Old 10-31-2007, 09:25 PM
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hoosierdaddy hoosierdaddy is offline
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Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

(I thought about posting this in the Health & Safety section, but I feel this is mainly a mountaineering issue)

Have you ever had it? What were your symptoms and what did you do about it?

Mine was the throbbing headache from hell and some nausea. I just lost some altitude, drank a whole lot of water and went up slower after that. It seemed to help.

Rock & Ice magazine published this tip that bears some discussion time:

"Acute Mountain Sickness (aka altitude sickness, or AMS) can bring you or a teammate to a halt with various mild symptoms such as loss of appetite, headache or nausea – or lead to more severe problems like cerebral or pulmonary edema. Here’s a quick field test to determine if a member if your climb team needs to descend.

Ask the AMS affected person to stand in a flat, safe place. Have at least one other person standing alongside to catch them if they start to stumble. Have the AMS “patient” stand with their feet together (insides of the boots touching) have hands at their sides, and finally close their eyes. If they can hold this position for 10 seconds without a stumble or fall, they are okay to continue. If they stumble, have them head down, pronto."


So, what do you think? Is this a valid "test" or mumbo jumbo?

Last edited by hoosierdaddy : 10-31-2007 at 09:28 PM.
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  #2  
Old 10-31-2007, 09:37 PM
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big_load big_load is offline
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It may be a valid indicator of serious problems, but I think most people are ready to call it day before it gets that bad. I've only had moderate symptoms, but Mrs. big_load was really suffering the first time I got her up to 13 kfeet. She did a lot better the next time, when I pestered her endlessly to stay hydrated.
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  #3  
Old 11-01-2007, 01:58 PM
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Flrdys Flrdys is offline
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AMS is brutal to go through and after a few bad experiences I've learned to avoid it by taking rest days. It has happened to me a few times in the High Sierras after I've made the trip from my home at sea level. I'm often too excited to get on the trail that I don't let my body adjust to the altitude and I pay the consequences later.

In my experiences, I've had a throbbing headache and a quesy stomach. This feeling usually dissipates by my second day on the trail (and after drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated). If it lingers any longer (or if the effects are more severe) then the only cure is to descend.

That's an interesting test that they suggest -- it would certainly be a strong indicator of AMS!

I talked with a backcountry ranger at Kings Canyon and he said that almost every year they have to call in an air rescue for people suffering from a cerebral edema brought on by extreme altitude sickness.

The last few times I've hiked in high altitude conditions I've spend at least one day to let my body adjust and the results have allowed me to enjoy the trip even more.
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  #4  
Old 11-06-2007, 05:39 PM
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Wayback Wayback is offline
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My symptoms: nausea, severe fatigue, and loss of appetite. I have to force myself to eat and find that there are some things I just cannot get down. The paradox is that if I do not eat, I have even more nausea. With experience, I have learned what food to take that I can more easily make myself eat. Plenty of water is important to avoid headaches.

I have tried diamox, but the side effects for me were unpleasant and I am not sure if it did much good.
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  #5  
Old 11-06-2007, 06:00 PM
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hoosierdaddy hoosierdaddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayback
I have tried diamox, but the side effects for me were unpleasant and I am not sure if it did much good.
What were the side effects? I've heard of the tingling in the extremeties and water retention...others? Also, how hard was it to obtain a prescription?
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  #6  
Old 11-07-2007, 12:34 PM
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Wayback Wayback is offline
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With the Diamox, the worst thing was an uncomfortable tingling in my hands and feet. It felt like a weak electic current running through them. Not painful, but quite unsettling. The Diamox also changed my sense of taste. There were some other things I didn't like, but they must not have been too bad since I cannot remember them.

Diamox is actually a diuretic (it used to be prescribed for high blood pressure), so there should be no fluid retention problems. It actually works by changing your body's ph level which somehow signals your brain to breathe faster to bring in more oxygen to restore the ph level. This is supposed to help the body to faster acclimate to altitude.

I had no trouble getting an Rx, since Diamox is a fairly innocuous drug. There is a generic version available, so cost should not be a problem.

The last time I was at altitude I did not use the Diamox and my nausea was worse than when I used it. So, it may have been of some benefit. I may try it again, but at a lower dosage.

Last edited by Wayback : 11-07-2007 at 12:41 PM.
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  #7  
Old 12-18-2007, 10:15 PM
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c4jc88 c4jc88 is offline
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I used Diamox this summer when I climber Rainier and it helped tremendously. I had the side effect of tingling fingers and toes, but I suffered no AMS at all and felt really good the entire ascent. I didn't feel that I needed to urinate more than normal and made sure I was drinking enough water. I stopped taking it after we turned around at 13800 feet due to some team members being freaked out by the bergschrund and did get a headache on the way down. Once I realized what was happening and took another Diamox the headache magically disappeared.

If I had the opportunity to acclimitize slowly I would prefer that but on a two day trip that just wasn't an option so I took Diamox. Rather have tingly fingers and toes than AMS.

Jason
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  #8  
Old 05-26-2010, 12:45 PM
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Rambler Rambler is offline
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Book on the topic:

Altitude Illness: Prevention & Treatment, Stephen Bezruchka, M.D., 2005
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  #9  
Old 01-02-2012, 09:47 PM
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Hanr3 Hanr3 is offline
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Sorry for the revival.

I used to live at 9,400' elevation and got headaches when we drove down to Denver once a month for food. The key is to prevention is drinking to keep your urine clear in color. If your not peeing every couple of hours, or your urine has color, your NOT drinking enough liquids.
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