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Adequate health services in Cuzco for alittude sickness (for asthmatic)?

Adequate health services in Cuzco for alittude sickness (for asthmatic)?

Old Jun 13th, 2010, 03:15 AM
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Adequate health services in Cuzco for alittude sickness (for asthmatic)?

Hello, I am 25 years old not best physical condition and I have asthma. I am flying directly from Europe to Buenos Aires and from there on the same day to Cuzco, Peru (3500 m) for an one month course.

I have read a lot about altitude sickness and I am afraid that I will be susceptible to it. I was wondering whether Cuzco has adequate health services to treat severe alitude sickness situations (and possibly an asthma crisis). Also, in case of immediate need of descend, are there other places close to Cuzco (for instance in Sacred Valley) that could be easily reached by bus, preferably with some medical facilities as well?

Thank you very much!
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 06:06 AM
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I flew from Lima to Cuzco and was quite badly affected by the altitude. I was glad that the Hotel we stayed in had oxygen available for guests and I would make this a priority at least for your first few days in Cuzco. Most people adjust within a few days. another suggestion would be to transfer immediately to Ollantaytambo for a couple of days as this is at lower altitude and will give your body time to adjust.

Cuzco is the main town in the SV and probably does offer the best medical facilities in the region but you could check this out via google. Whilst there, I did notice one or two advertisements for hypabaric re/decompression chambers which are usually used for divers but can also be used for AMS -again google should yield results.
Probably best to identify suitable places for treatment before you arrive.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 06:24 AM
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Flying direct from sea level to Cusco (11500 ft!)

with a chronic pulmonary condition is a BAD idea

Discuss get ok from your pulmonary MD and or Trav MD

A young female Brit died of AMS around Titicaca

last week by not respecting the altitude.

Stop at Lima GRADUALLY bus up the Gringo Trail

over several days to adjust..take Diamox as a preventive.

hospitals just ok not great in Cusco.

If you get sick descend IMMEDIATELY...

Altitude sickness may develop in travelers who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500 m, including those in previously excellent health. Being physically fit in no way lessens the risk of altitude sickness. Those who have developed altitude sickness in the past are prone to future episodes. The risk increases with faster ascents and higher altitudes. Symptoms of acute mountain sickness, the most common form of the disorder, may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Severe cases may be complicated by breathlessness and chest tightness, which are signs of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), or by confusion, lethargy, and unsteady gait, which indicate cerebral edema (brain swelling).

Altitude sickness may be prevented by taking acetazolamide 125 or 250 mg twice daily starting 24 hours before ascent and continuing for 48 hours after arrival at altitude.

www.mdtravelhealth.com Peru
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 08:26 AM
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Be very careful about taking diamox/acetazolamide without consulting your own doctor just in case there are any contra-indications for any other medications you may be taking for your condition.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 08:35 AM
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Qwovadis gave you excellent advice which I hope you will heed. I recently returned from Peru where I flew from Lima to Cusco. Almost immediately after leaving the plane, I felt the effects of mild altitude sickness. Fortunately, our first 2 nights were spent in the Sacred Valley where my body seemed to adjust to the altitude. I was fine after that first miserable day, but many others in our group were not, so you just never know. Be prepared for the worst and know what your options are for leaving the area, if necessary. I was not able to take Diamox because I am allergic to sulfa, but many people on our trip who took it also had symptoms of altitude sickness. Taking oxygen at our hotels seemed to help most. This is not meant to scare you. It is meant to make you aware of the possibility that you might need intervention. Good luck and hope you have a great month in Cusco. It is a really lovely town, despite its high altitude.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 11:57 AM
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Thank you very much for your advice. I actually don't have the luxury to go gradually up - I'm travelling alone and as my spanish right now is not the best I wouldn't opt for long bus rides to get to Cuzco. Moreover, I will only arrive there by plane a couple of days before the course starts.

I will talk to my doctor tomorrow about medication to help me with altitude and I think I will spend the first couple of days staying in a hotel before I move to my homestay so I can get the advantage of oxygen.

Do you know any cheap hotels that offer oxygen? Also, how far is Ollantaytambo by bus or train by Cuzco? If it's rather close I might book the first night there already.

Thank you very much again for your advice!

Anny
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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Anny-You do not have to go all the way to Ollantaytambo to get the benefit of lower altitude than Cusco. I stayed in Yucay at Casona de Yucay which is about 1.5 hours from Cusco by car. Ollantaytambo is about another 25 minutes farther away. If it is in your budget, you could have a driver from the hotel meet you at the airport and drive you to the hotel. We used a driver from the hotel for some day trips and he charged $10-$12 per hour.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 05:39 PM
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You can get to Ollantaytambo by two busses (one to Urubamba and another to Ollantaytambo), recommend taking a taxi to the bus station from the airport, only a few dollars. You may want to leave your main luggage at your homestay and ask them to help you catch the bus or the shared taxis that also go to Urubamba/ Ollantaytambo. I'm sure either the school or the homestay can help with that.

There are some good hostels in Ollantaytambo eg KB Tambo, and I think also around Urubamba.
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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My 18 yr old son was hospitalized for 5 days in Cuzco last April w/a pulmonary condition that was exacerbated from the altitude. He had a slight cough before we left the USA and in Cuzco it turned into severe pneumonia at about 48 hrs in Cuzco due to the altitude. He was hospitalized at a private clinic, San Jose Clinica. EXCELLENT medical care (and I am a nurse, I know good medical care when I see it). If you click on my name "emd3" you can see my trip report from last April which discusses his hospitalization. I would not recommend the public hospital but San Jose Clinica is excellent.
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Old Jun 15th, 2010, 11:09 AM
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I am going to post here what my doctor told me as other people might need it as well. She told me that asthma in itself should not be much of a problem (I can actually use my aerolin to improve the incoming oxygen in my blood) but the problem is my low iron and low red blood cells. She told me that it will take me probably much longer to acclimatise as my body will take longer to create an adeqaute number of red blood cells to receive enough oxygen. Moreover, I happen to have low blood pressure (it's a heat wave here right now and it doesn't help) and I cannot take the medicines that help with altitude. The verdict of the doctor is that it's not dangerous but it will be very unpleasant for a few days...

As I will be alone though I am thinking of not going there at all... I also got my yellow fever vaccine today and I might get the side effect fever just on the day I will be flying there. I am very disappointed with the idea of missing this trip but I guess if I am in panic all the time about the effects of altitude I won't enjoy it...

Thank you all so much again for your help! If I find any more info I'll let you know!
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Old Jun 15th, 2010, 07:00 PM
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That is very interesting info from your doctor. I hope you do decide to go, the Sacred Valley is so beautiful. Don't worry too much about not being taken care of because you are alone. The hotels are all equipped to get you medical attention if necessary and there will be plenty of English speakers around. To get even lower in altitude you could also go to Aguas Calientes at first, although since you have to take the Machu Picchu train it is expensive to get there.
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Old Jun 16th, 2010, 03:48 AM
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You can get oxygen at your hotel to help you. Many of the lesser hotels have this. I stayed at Rumi Punku for about $70 a night and they had oxygen. You can suck on some O2 and it will help you while you are getting used to altitude.

I had no effects from yellow fever or any of the other shots I got for the rain forest lodge part of our trip.

I would not cancel the trip if it was me. Just take it slow and stay in Ollantaytambo at night to sleep instead of Cuzco. Cuzco is a problem, as it is 10K ft. Most of the rest of the Sacred Valley is not that high. And what matters most w/altitude is where you sleep.
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Old Jun 16th, 2010, 03:54 AM
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annyprot: p.s. Even though my son was hospitalized and we did not get to go to the rain forest lodge bc we had to shift our trip around due to that, we are both still VERY GLAD we went on the trip. We got to see the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. We talk about it all the time.

His hospitalization cost $1000 for 5 days! We had trip insurance. But it was actually part of the education of the trip to experience Peruvian private health care, which was excellent.
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Old Jun 16th, 2010, 12:29 PM
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Just transfer to Ollantaytambo (or Urubamba, but Ollantaytambo is much nicer) upon arrival and stay there a few days. Very few people have any problem at that altitude, and then you'll feel much better when you move to Cusco.
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Old Jun 26th, 2010, 04:08 PM
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Age and physical condition have little to do with the likelihood of experiencing problems with altitude. The asthma element is something you must talk through thoroughly with your doctor. You need good insurance to cover treatment and potential evacuation; the company needs to know of your asthma and the fact that you will be there on a course.

If you are going straight to altitude take it very, very easy indeed on the first day. Don't smoke (unlikely in your case), don't even look at alcohol. Eat light meals. Drink plenty of water. Locals swear by coca tea, but check with a pharmacist for interactions with any medication you are taking.

Diamox only hides the symptoms, it doesn't cure the problem. It can also screw up other medications.
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