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Elevation Changes; Seeking Experiences and Advice.

Elevation Changes; Seeking Experiences and Advice.

Old Jan 26th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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I would avoid over-the-counter sleep aids for the first few days, if possible, as most of them contain generic benadryl, an antihistamine, which can cause dry mouth and nasal cavity.

I use saline for my contact lenses. Ask your doctor. S/he may recommend a lubricating drop for your eyes.
Old Jan 26th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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I dont know if you do much drinking - but alcohol will effect you much differently at a higher altitude. A little goes a long way...even having only one glass of wine/beer can make you quite tipsy/drunk or even sick!!
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 10:53 AM
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As you can see from my screen name, I'm a fellow Floridian, so I can relate to this with personal experience.

My husband and I, (61 and 57) have made recent trips to the areas you're going as well as some others at higher elevation.

The only symptoms either of us have experienced is that we tire a bit more easily, even though we're both in good physical condition (have made several hikes of 6-8 hour duration with elevation changes and in high temps). It isn't so much that our legs give out, but that we feel short of breath, me especially. I'm a natural shallow breather (a lot of us are) and just don't routinely use my lungs to the max or even close. He on the other hand, is a surfer and has great lung capacity. Unless we're hiking steeply uphill, he's fine. Any kind of grade begins to get to me. I just slow down, or even stop for a couple of minutes and then keep going. Never been enough to stop us from doing what we wanted.

The advice about water is good, but don't forget to include Gatorade - or something similar, as well. Also some salty snacks. You're losing more than just water when you sweat. I made the mistake on one of our earliest trips out there of just drinking water, and lots of it, didn't really feel like eating much. We weren't even at that high an elevation and I started to feel sick to my stomach and weak. A park ranger later told me about making sure I eat something salty and substitute another liquid for some of the water.

Being as fit as possible, as you seem to be aiming for, is great and will really help. In addition to avoiding alcohol, I was told to cut back or eliminate caffeine for a week or so before my trip. I'm not much for booze, but giving up the caffeine was hard.

Also, buy some saline nose spray. I found it made the extreme dryness easier to tolerate and helped me sleep better at night. A heavy duty moisturizer for your body and hands is a must. Coming from such high humidity you'll feel like your skin is being sucked dry. (Be prepared for your hair to go funky, too.) Ditto on the advice about sunscreen, hats, etc. All necessary to have.

The areas you're going to are awe inspiring. So different from our Florida. We've been to all the places you're going and every one of them is just gorgeous. Have a great trip.

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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 10:57 AM
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Perfect nytraveler- that 1/2 of what I can do here gives me a great training goal for the next couple of months! Thanks for the tip.

Honestly I feel funny about the sleep aide anyway, ExpertTripPlanner, if you already can't breath as well, why would you want to knock yourself out...doesn't make much sense.

Fortunately steviegene, I don't drink or smoke so that won't be a factor in the mix.

Old Jan 26th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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We've flown from Tampa to Phoenix then driven to the Grand Canyon quite a few times, and with only minimal issues with elevation changes. I'm pretty fit so was embarrassingly out of breath hiking Bright Angel...out of breath but a stop and I'd be fine and breathing normally in less than a minute, so it wasn't anything dire. Being Workout Queen means you must never breath audibly and expect to maintain the aura of fitness others (husband and children) expect of you. Really, it was normal and most everyone was in the same boat or worse! Parts of that hike are steep.

I've had no difficulty what-so-ever flying from Tampa to Las Vegas, heading immediately to Bryce and hiking there. Hiking was quite a bit easier than Zion. Zion we noticed slight breathlessness, nothing worth a second thought though.

Of course I have noticed how terribly dry the air feels compared to FL...I feel as if I'm visibly shriveling up. Bring lots and lots of moisturizer and chapstick!

The only time I've had much of an issue at all was flying Tampa to Denver then driving to Silverthorne to ski, where I had a good headache the first day or two and some sleeplessness. By day 3, I was fine. I don't think you'll have much of an issue with it if you take things just a bit easier the first day or so. That doesn't mean "don't hike", but don't try to set any speed records either.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 11:35 AM
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Unfortunately another side effect for me was insomnia- even with taking my sleep aid (trazadone) that I take every night. I hardly slept the entire time- 5 days. It seems like about the time I started getting aclimated to the altitude it was time to go home. Don't get me wrong I loved Colorado and will go back.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 11:40 AM
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Totally love hearing from you FL girls...I didn't have lotion on my list, I do now.

Now that you've brought it up Fran, I think of I have a breathing tape from Dr. Andrew Weil, I'm going to pull that out this weekend an give it a try...can't hurt.
Old Jan 26th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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It does not matter how good a shape you are in it is just that altitude affects everyone different and you never know until you get there.
Alot of people have no problem but I found out I do and did not expect it all all.
The sleeping problem happens because you heart is racing(in my case) to get oxygen to your brain. I would climb into bed and feel like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. And I am in really good shape. But it was hard to settle down to sleep. Also the headache can get so severe nothing you take helps.
But this does not happen to everyone and I hope it doesn't happen to you but you probably will get short of breath easier if you are walking or hiking.
I am also from Florida and not used to hill walking or climbing. Drink lots of water and keep hydrated also.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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You may or may not have any problems.

In high elevations, I have trouble sleeping but am otherwise fine. My wife, however, has had nausea and vomiting.

I would ask your doctor for some of the anti-altitude sickness drugs, just in case. Chances are you won't need them, but they sure have helped my wife.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 01:41 PM
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It truly does NOT matter if you're in great shape! I'm a runner and dancer (classical ballet) and we've hiked and explored MANY higher elevations (canadian rockies, glacier np in montana, rocky mt np) where i had no problem whatsoever.

Strangely enough, even being in great shape and drinking tonzzz of water, i had two episodes of altitude illness - at the NORTH rim of Grand Canyon, and one morning in Yellowstone (canyon lodge) a place we'd visited several times prior without a hitch.

It was so random, there was no rhyme or reason why it occured those two times. Thankfully, i only felt like crap a few hours, lots of Advil and even MORE water helps alot so keep both handy
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 04:46 PM
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LauraATL, I, too had the same problem when I went to Breckenridge last summer. I had terrible insomnia and had no idea it had to do with the elevation until maybe the 3rd night we were there. I was looking in my AAA book and saw info on altitude sickness and sure enough, it was listed! I didn't sleep for 5 days and tried Tylenol PM one night and Ambien the others. I was exhausted. I drank plenty of water and had no caffeine or alcohol either. I was dizzy but had no shortness of breath.
for Flmom, you will be acclimated better since you will taking over 2 weeks to see it all. At the higher elevations, ease into it and take it slowly the first day or two. You may be lucky and have no problems at all. My husband and children didn't, just lucky me
Have a wonderful trip!
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 06:40 PM
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When we visited the South Rim of GCNP earlier this year, a blood vessel burst in my eye. I read that it may have been because I wear contact lenses, which made it harder for my eyes to get enough oxygen at that altitude. I've been in the Tahoe area many times with no such side effects, though, so I didn't expect this. I wonder if anyone else has had this problem when visiting the canyon..or places of similar altitude. It might be a good idea to bring a pair of glasses, just in case, but I was still able to wear my lenses. Nothing hurt; it just looked hideous to me.
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 08:52 PM
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i get altitude-induced migraines, which were really a problem when we hiked half-dome at yosemite and angels flight in zion.

i suggest that you get a "camel-back" backpack and fill the bladder with water (each of you), and also still bring as MUCH water in the pack in bottles as you can. you need WAY more than you'd ever think. keep ibuprofen or tylenol with you when you hike in case one comes on.

my situation is pretty severe, though... i can get a migraine just climbing up a steep flight of stairs!
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Old Jan 26th, 2007, 11:47 PM
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I agree with Dayle. Make sure you both stay very well hydrated. Also, if either of you have respiratory or cardiac problems (ie: asthma, COPD, arrhythmia), I would also see your physician before your trip. Try not to think of the altitude too much. Just enjoy the scenery! Bryce and Zion are fantastic!
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Old Jan 27th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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OK, this has been extremely helpful, so thanks to all of you for posting. From the prospective of being informed and proactive, rather than worried and obsessed, I’ve got a good idea on how to prepare, and then, just not think about it and enjoy the view!

I suffer from migraines too lynnejoel1015, so I think I will check in with my doctor before we go and discuss my concerns with him. I will call my Optometrist’s office and ask about drops for my contacts and bring along my glasses as a backup. BTW, holly, it’s good to know the blood vessel thing didn’t hurt or interrupt you trip.

We’ll bring all of the OTC products mentioned;
Sunscreen, lip balm, moisturizing lotion, saline nose spray, lubricating eye drops and Advil-Aspirin-Tylenol.

We got our “camel-back’s” for Christmas, mine is 3 liters, DD is 2 liters. We’ll pack them with extra water bottles and lots of little high energy snacks and meals so we can keep a little food in our stomachs’ all the time. We’re doing the road-trip car cooler thing so we can include Gatorade - or something similar, as well some salty snacks.

I’ll continue with my fitness routine; some strength training and I’ll bump up my cardio a bit. I’m adding some breathing exercises from a tape I’ve had for a long time, but never really used; now is the perfect time to try it out.

We’re taking the “long scenic” route from PHX to GCNP. Our flight is scheduled to arrive at 7:30 am MST. Once we get the rental, we’ll stop at Wal-Mart and then head out. I’ve planned on stopping at Montezuma’s Castle and then head west toward Sedona, and maybe check out the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We’ll continue along 89 through Sedona and make our way through Oak Creek Canyon, stopping at some of the overlooks and the roadside vendors if we feel like it. We’ll get to GCNP for supper and the sunset. Hopefully, this is low-key enough for us to ease into our trip, and allow our bodies to adjust a bit.
Old Jan 27th, 2007, 05:26 PM
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Hi FLMom,

I think you are well prepared now. My personal altitude symptom is sleeplessness. Belive me, it is a very long, miserable night when you are totally exhausted and lay there with your eyes wide open all night long! I find an altitude change of more than 3,500 ft. affects me.

A pharmacist friend recommended over the counter sleep tabs for me and I've used them for years. I am very suseptible to medications of any kind and find that 1/2 the regular dosage is enough for me to get a good night's sleep. The mild "cotton mouth" side effect is well worth it.

Sleep tabs like Simply Sleep are non addicting and have very little residual effect. I can wake up in less than 8 hours, eat, and feel fine. Your experience will be unique to your physiology, but you shouldn't hesitate to have some handy.

Have fun!

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Old Jan 27th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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Actice ingredient in Simply Sleep is Diphenhydramine HCl [25 mg in each caplet] which is exactly the same thing as Dramamine. Save yourself the $$ and buy generic at WalMart, WalGreen etc.

This stuff dries you out, so be sure to drink lots if you choose to take it as the dry air in SW will make you dehydrate fast!

Hope this helps...
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