General Nursing, Uncategorized

Altitude Sickness

The previous post, I shared my experience with altitude sickness at 7000 feet on the rim of the Grand Canyon. After I returned home, I did some research on altitude sickness. The experts advise sleeping at lower altitudes, going up high during the day, and then returning to the lower altitude. In retrospect, I should have acclimated in Sedona at 4300 feet for a few days, made a day trip to the rim, and then returned to Sedona at night. But I will always have trouble with altitude because of my sleep apnea.

Later that year, I attended a medical seminar and met two Nurse Practitioners from Colorado. I asked if they had any suggestions to prevent altitude sickness. They said to take ibuprofen an hour before going up high, and every four hours while up high. It is a  non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and decreases swelling in the lungs.

The following spring, I tried it out in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I took ibuprofen and then took the ski lift to the top of Cannon Mountain at 4000 feet. I strolled around for an hour and felt fine. I came back down and drove to Mount Washington. I enjoyed the van ride to the top where it was cool and windy at 6300 feet. I stayed thirty minutes, caught all the views, and then rode back down. I was elated that I felt fine, so now I know that ibuprofen helps me short-term.

With the help of ibuprofen, I rode to the top of Mount Washington without difficulty.

When I flew to Ecuador several years ago, carefully planned my flight so I didn’t land in Quito (10,000 ft) or La Paz, Bolivia (13,000 ft). I flew through El Salvador and landed on the Pacific coast in Guayaquil. I also had to forego seeing Cuenca, Ecuador in the Andes Mountains at 8000 feet. I later learned that many people in the Andes make tea from Coco leaves to help them with the altitude.

Now I am even more thankful that I rafted through the Grand Canyon while in my thirties before I developed sleep apnea and needed electricity to run my CPAP machine. It’s so good to trust in the Lord to direct our steps with His perfect timing.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.”

Psalm 37:23

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