Puzzled by altitude sickness


Sep 16th, 2017, 12:12 AM
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Puzzled by altitude sickness

Why did I get severe altitude sickness in machu pichu when I have gone on ski lifts in California up to 8,050 miles and was fine?
Deeply puzzled
jill777 is offline  
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Sep 16th, 2017, 07:06 AM
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Maybe you were there longer?
thursdaysd is offline  
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Sep 16th, 2017, 04:23 PM
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I am guessing you meant feet and not miles! Altitude sickness not only varies from person to person but can also be affected by other factors. Moving between altitudes quickly (up or down) can affect it. Age can be a factor as can general health. It doesn't obey any particular rules.
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Sep 16th, 2017, 06:28 PM
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How did it affect you? Out of breath? Slight headache? That's normal. If you are skiing you are not hiking uphill so might not notice that. Throwing up? Dizzy? That's more severe.

And yes, it doesn't follow rules...but actually if you are older your brain has shrunk slightly so they say you are less likely to get a headache!

Did you stay in Cusco your first nights, rather than starting your stay by sleeping at lower elevations such as Ollantaytambo or Aguas Calientes.? Where you sleep often has a bigger impact than where you visit during the day. It an definitely sneak up on you too, you may feel okay when you first arrive but by the first night you are not so great.

Some articles I've seen also attribute some of the distress to dehydration or giving up caffeine.
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Sep 17th, 2017, 05:08 PM
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I slept in agua caliente, I took the ski lift from mt baldy in California several times 8050 ft at the top did some walking around the top no problem, but in machu pichu every 10 steps felt like my heart is going to pop lots of huffing n puffing
Dont bother purchasing can of oxygen there was no relief, the cocoa leaf tea have me heart burn and kept me up all night
And also no relief
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Sep 18th, 2017, 03:31 AM
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That doesn't really sound like altitude sickness, that is simply a result of thinner air and less oxygen making your heart have to pump harder to get the oxygen it needs. At Machu Picchu you are climbing up steps which also makes the heart have to work harder, even on flat land your heart pumps harder and you breathe harder after climbing steps. Perhaps in California, you were walking on flatter terrain not requiring your heart to pump as hard. And frankly, they say altitude sickness begins typically around 8,000', Machu Picchu is actually a bit lower than this so really you shouldn't be getting it to begin with. Cocoa leaves would not help with a pounding heart but I would imagine oxygen should have.
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Sep 18th, 2017, 04:48 AM
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I agree with odie, does not sound to me like the description of 'severe altitude sickness'. That would involve being out of breath when you are sitting, not hiking up stairs. Or feeling confused. And that likely you were not walking up stretches of stairs at the highest part of the Baldy lifts with your skis on?

It doesn't sound like you had more than possibly a mild case. Unless you are well acclimated you are not going to be sprinting up stairs. I know it's humbling when older folks pass you up. But they may have spent more time at altitude, or just be fitter or their bodies more efficient at using oxygen.

Coca (not cocoa) may or may not have been what gave you heartburn..that actually could have been the altitude. Or something else you ate or drank.
mlgb is offline  
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Sep 18th, 2017, 04:56 PM
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Because altitude sickness is never the same. I live in Peru and have stayed in Cusco for months at a time. Sometimes I get off the plane and run and play and eat - sometimes my heart goes crazy, my head is pounding and I feel like s***t. There's no rule.
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