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Qu - does altitude help or harm?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Persimmon, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. Persimmon

    Persimmon Senior Member

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    Incline Village is roughly 1,900m (6,000ft) above sea level.

    Is this altitude theorised to have been significant?

    Also, are symptoms aggravated (or improved) when people with ME/CFS travel to elevated locations, such as Incline Village?
  2. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    This older thread had no replies.

    I am curious about altitude effects too.

    In an interview, Dr Bell said people living at high altitudes have higher blood volume. But in other documents I am seeing they just have higher red cells and hematocrit, so they have thicker blood. He may have been just simplifying his answer.

    In one thread, someone said during a short vacation to high altitude, he felt bad. He returned to normal when he got home.

    I am curious if you took ME patients to high altitude, and they lived there for a year, or however long it takes to increase their red cells. When they move back, I guess it would reverse and they lose the red cells?
    L'engle likes this.
  3. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    I was listening to a friend trying to describe what it felt like at a very high altitude some years ago - I wondered at the time if that might be a vague "model" for ME.
    Vastly reduced oxygen, making *everything* slow and difficult......

    I thought that folk who live permanently at high altitudes (as in indigenous) have a more efficient form of haemoglobin in their RBCs - as well as more RBCs. I may be wrong.:D
    L'engle likes this.
  4. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    SickOfSickness peggy-sue

    I moved from 5 ft about sea level to 6500 ft and felt no difference.

    I've also spent time (about a week) at extremely high altitude (about 1400 ft [I mean 14,000 ft!] in the Himalayas) and there I could barely walk 5 yrds, had headaches etc.

    So, for what it is worth, one person's report!

    Edit: I meant 14,ooo ft!

    Sushi
    Valentijn likes this.
  5. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Wow. Were you in better health when you moved, versus your week trip? What else do you think made the difference?
  6. Sushi

    Sushi Moderator and Senior Member Albuquerque

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    I was in better health when I went to the Himalayas. I'm pretty sure that it was the extreme altitude. 6500 ft is not extreme and doesn't really bother the majority of "healthies," anyway.

    Sushi
  7. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

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    Cortisol requirements are increased at altitude so this may also be a factor in the transition for some of us as well. Our HPA axis may not be as responsive to the increased need which leaves us more symptomatic and for a longer period of time.

    Ema
    Valentijn and SickOfSickness like this.
  8. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    6500' isn't very high at all - it's about the height of the Scottish Munroes, I don't know of anybody who has even noticed thinner air at that height. I do know a lot of people who spend a lot of time up there. :)
  9. Allyson

    Allyson Senior Member

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    my specialist say s altitiude is extremely bad for us due to the decompression

    th8is is one reason why flying is such an issue

    flying is like being at 9 000 feet

    he says many people discover they have EDS when they go mountain climbing and - tragically - drop dead from the altitiude.

    I have avoided mountains but flying always has very deleterious effects on me

    Ally
  10. SOC

    SOC Back to work (easy, part-time work)

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    I lived "at altitude" (7000 ft) for several years long before I got ME/CFS and climbed a number of 14,000 ft peaks. Altitude never gave me a problem then, although many healthy people struggle with altitudes above 7000 ft. Since then, I've never had problems going from low altitude, where I live now, to high altitude. Only once in the 30 years I've been visiting at high altitude did I get altitude sickness and that was pre-ME.

    Since I've had ME/CFS I've been back home maybe half a dozen times. Typically I don't notice the altitude (other than the usual breathlessness with exertion most lowlanders feel at first) or I feel better. I certainly don't feel worse.

    The altitude/pressure difference in airplanes doesn't bother me, either. The crowdedness, the smells, and the dehydration are issues, but not the pressure difference.
    Valentijn likes this.
  11. SOC

    SOC Back to work (easy, part-time work)

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    When living at 7000+ ft, I encountered many people -- mostly known as "tourists" ;) -- who suffered from altitude-related problems in their first few days at altitude. It's a mild form of altitude sickness, we were told. Not everyone gets it, though. There seems to be a strong genetic component as well as a correlation between a tendency to migraines and susceptibility to altitude sickness. Degree of physical fitness didn't seem to make any difference.

    Also, the vast majority of people going from low altitude to high altitude (about 7000 feet and up) will notice some degree of shortness of breath with exertion until they acclimatize, which takes several days. I'm surprised you haven't met anybody who even noticed the thinner air. I camped with dozens of people who came from the lowlands to the CO mountains and virtually all of them noticed the thinner air at first, although there was a large variation in "suffering" from almost none to being bedbound for several days.
    ahimsa, Valentijn and peggy-sue like this.
  12. peggy-sue

    peggy-sue

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    Soc said:
    "There seems to be a strong genetic component as well as a correlation between a tendency to migraines and susceptibility to altitude sickness. Degree of physical fitness didn't seem to make any difference."

    I believe this is completely correct. I saw a tv programme about some mountain-climbing expedition in the Himalayas.
    None of them had been at these sorts of altitudes before.
    Several experienced and fit mountaineers could not cope with the altitude and had to give up early - while some who were less fit and experienced were able to get much further up.
    SOC and Valentijn like this.

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