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Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cardiology Topics

Question: altitude sickness symptons


 karen111195 - Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:00 am

Can you tell me if any real concern should be placed on swollen/protruding veins on both temples at high elevation (Breckenridge, CO). These veins have never been noticeable (swollen/protruding). One night waking from sleep in the middle of the morning feeling lack of oxygen breathing causing anxiety (possibly due to a stuffy nose). 2-3 nights waking in the middle of the a.m. (able to fall back to sleep). Any real concern for future trips at high elevation. Thank you.
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:48 am

User avatar Hi Karen111195,

Traveling to high altitudes can be quite taxing on the body. I happened to be in Breckenridge myself last summer and felt its effects first hand. The more common symptoms felt are nausea/vomiting, fatigue, and headaches. Disturbed sleeping is very common, sometimes because of a change in breathing pattern while sleeping. The breathing pattern often seen is known as Cheyne-Stokes breathing which starts as shallow rapid breathing then progresses to deeper breaths which drop off suddenly and goes back to the shallow breathing. The drop off time can actually have a pause in breathing. This is considered a normal occurrence at high altitudes.

I would not be particularly concerned about the veins. These veins may be more noticeable but are unlikely to cause any problems.

Things that can help with high altitude visits are to take it very easy the first few days and to drink lots of water. Over the course of several days the body will begin to adapt and get used to the limitations but even with this acclamation caution should still be used not to over exert yourself or the fatigue and other symptoms may return, especially if you happen to be hiking some of the mountain ranges in the area that can climb as high as 14,000 feet. Also, some people are more prone to altitude sickness problems than others. There are a few medicines that may be of some benefit to help reduce the symptoms. If you may need these your doctor can determine if they would help you.

Best wishes.

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