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Thread: High Altitude and medication

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    High Altitude and medication

    Does anyone have experience with high altitudes or taking medication to prevent symptoms of high altitudes? Is chikung enough?

    I will be hiking up mount Kenya in 3 weeks and its about 16400ft/5000m high. I haven't put a pill in my body for over 5 years so I'm a bit apprehensive about doing it this time around. Yet if necessary I will do so.

    Thanks
    Brand

  2. #2
    Anton S.'s Avatar
    Anton S. is offline Sifu Anton Schmick - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Germany
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    Mar 2006
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    Hamburg / Frankfurt / Zürich
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    Hey Brand,

    you´ve raised an interesting topic. Thank you!
    Actually I have no hiking experience on 5000m and hence I can´t comment on this. Developing AMS is related to personal fitness, hydration level and ascendence speed. It is interesting you have mentioned a drug that you consider taking as a precaution. What particular drug were you referring to? Who recommended it you and why?

    How quick are you planning to hike up the 5000m?

    And off course it would be interesting to read from our fellow practitioners about their altitude experiences.

    With best regards,
    Anton
    Engage and maintain joyful practice!

    May all of you get the best benefits from what you do.

    Anton Schmick
    Shaolin Wahnam Germany Nord

    shaolinwahnamchina.com
    http://chikunghamburg.wordpress.com
    http://shaolinwahnam-nord.de
    http://kungfu-luebeck.de


  3. #3
    Damian Kissey's Avatar
    Damian Kissey is offline Dr. Damian Kissey - Senior Disciple of Grandmaster Wong
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    Kota Kinabalu,Sabah ,Malaysia.
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    Sifu ( Grandmaster Wong ) , Simu , their 2 children ( Sije Siau Foong , Siheng Chun Yian ) , my wife and I have climbed Mt Kinabalu ( 13400 feet/ 4000 m ) successfully mostly from being regular chi kung practitioner and without taking preventative medication ( eg Diamox ) or doing any special preparatory exercises .

    I also know many relatives and friends ( whom are non-chi kung practitioners ) who have successfully done the same without suffering overt acute mountain sickness ( AMS ) or altitude sickness .

    As Sifu Dr. Anton mentioned : "Developing AMS is related to personal fitness, hydration level and ascendence speed " ...if you add the factor of regular chi kung practice then you are doubly sure of being OK to climb successfully without using pills.
    Damian Kissey
    Shaolin Wahnam Sabah , Malaysia .
    www.shaolinwahnamsabah.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Northern California
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    Hi Brand,

    I grew up in Quito, Ecuador, a city with an altitude of about 9,000 feet / 3,000 meters. Like most other people, in the past I would get some minor altitude fatigue upon returning to Quito after being away for at least several months. This included mainly shortness of breath and getting tired easily and would take at least a few days to balance out.

    Now with chi kung, this doesn't happen.

    Best,
    Andrew
    Love, and do what you will.

    - St. Augustine

  5. #5
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    Oct 2013
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    South Africa
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    Thank you very much for the replies.

    The organisers, with extensive experience of Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro, advised us the following:

    "Good afternoon fellow Mt Kenya climbers,

    Every year we hear of unsuccessful Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya climbs. The biggest cause of these failures are due to climbers experiencing breathing problems, possibly from Pulmonary Oedema and succumbing to Altitude Sickness (also known as Acute Mountain Sickness -AMS‚ and High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema - HAPE).

    Altitude sickness effects everyone regardless of your health, fitness or age – you will experience one or more of the symptom during your expedition. What is important is knowledge and understanding of the symptoms; what to do when you start feeling uncomfortable and ways to prevent AMS.

    Fitness is important, but altitude sickness is the biggest obstacle facing any would-be high altitude climber. It is impossible to predict how severe altitude sickness will be from person to person, or even from trip to trip for the same person. I can tell you from my experience that altitude sickness is kind of like being in a room with a very temperamental Yeti. It might take a nap, or it might leap on you and tear you to ribbons. There is no way of knowing until it’s too late.
    BUT being fit and healthy will contribute to overcoming the side effects of altitude sickness, for example, having an altitude induced headache only is easier to manage that having the headache, sore and aching muscles and being out of breath!
    AMS, once apparent, can be treated and overcome. If however left untreated and a climbers starts experiencing multiple symptoms, then the most effective treatment is to immediately taking the affected person to a lower altitude. Often a drop as little as 500m will be sufficient.

    What are the symptoms of AMS? (in the order normally experienced):
    ·headaches,
    ·nausea,
    ·loss of appetite,
    ·exhaustion,
    ·extreme exhaustion,
    ·rapid pulse,
    ·insomnia,
    ·swelling of the hands and feet and
    ·reduced urine output.

    How does one treat AMS?

    • Rest, or descend,
    • Paracetamol or ibuprofen

    ·Do not continue ascending!
    ·Oxygen

    • Acetazolamide 250mg - 12 hourly
    • Dexamethasone 4mg PO - 6 hourly x 2


    Climbers can take precautions to minimise the severity of the illness by maintaining a slow steady pace from day one, (your guides will tell you to go “Pole-Pole” slow –slow); by drinking at least 3-4 litres of water every day and keeping your energy levels up.
    Preventative medicine is also available and you should consult your doctor (medical physician) for specialist advice.
    It helps to take Diamox tablets (Acetazolamide) or the generic on your first day on the mountain, even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. But beware: you will need to visit the loo a lot more often than usual.
    Diamox does however have a few side effects, such as heart palpitations and numbness in the cheeks or fingers. We therefore suggest that you experiment with Diamox beforehand over a weekend, just so you know how it affects you."

    It seems that light symptoms can be experienced above 3000m, and from 4000m up it gets exponentially worse. We sleep at 4200m before our summit. Here are 3 interesting articles to get a feel:

    http://www.mck.or.ke/mount-kenya/
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...n-Mount-Kenya/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26604255

  6. #6
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    The itinerary is:

    Day 1: sleep at 3200m
    Day 2: sleep at 4200m
    Day 3: summit to 5000m, then back to sleeping at around mid 3500m
    Day 4: last day hike

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Bern
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    Hi Brand

    I've been doing several trekkings in altitudes over 4000m in the last few years. I never took any pre medications and was quite surprised the last time i've been travelling in Peru, that there is Diamox and other medications on sale everywhere.

    I'm not sure at what altitude you will start on the first day, but you're itinerary is very fast with not much time to acclimatize for your body. So you'll have to take care, that you walk slowly, drink enough and eat enough.

    A lot of people have troubles, because they try to walk their normal pace, that they use in the lower altitudes, forget to drink and on don't eat enough. On top, usualy you're in another climate and eating other food, than used to, so the body has a lot off things to adapt to.

    I always have snacks with me, that i'm used to and can eat everywhere, also whilest walking (nuts, granola bars, chocolate). If you feel the altitude in the evening a beef broth (bouillon) can help.

    Make sure you have some electrolytes with you in case you get diarrhea. Most important, you have the hole day to do the walk. Take it slow, breathe and dont worry too much. Altitude will make you feel out of breath, your muscles might feel like they have not enough oxygen and sometimes you get a bit lightheaded. It will pass if you take one step at a time and take a break every now and then.

    Enjoy Mount Kenya and the view from the top and hopefully a safari afterwards

    Kind regards
    Sarah

  8. #8
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    I would like to give some feedback. As Sarah mentioned it was a really steep and quick climb. Out of a group of 40 we were probably 2 who didn't take diamox. Above 4200m one really starts to feel it. I performed Touching Toes and Three Levels Down every morning and evening for a quick 5 reps. That sorted my stiffness and elevated heartrate, with the added relaxation pending the difficult climb on the last day. I definitely struggled a bit from 4700m on up, but it was worth it. Doing it without diamox has given me great confidence in qigong and its possibilities. One has to be fit, but I figure that extensive stance training alone might sort this out. I haven't done any stance training yet, but as you can see my fitness plus qigong were sufficient. I look forward to testing it on Kilimandjaro in Tanzania.

    I might give Mt. Kinabalu a try since I'm heading to Sabah for the Intensive Taiji course in April!

    Cheers
    Brand

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