The air is thinner up here!

More and more people of all ages travel to  and reside in the mountains. Scientists and health care providers are just beginning to discover the effect of high altitude on health.

I have practiced medicine in Frisco, Colorado at 9,100 feet since 2000. Before that I worked on Saipan at sea level for 20 years. The difference has made me aware of special considerations when caring for people from newborns to retirees at high altitude. Simple measures can be taken to save a vacation or preserve an active life style in the mountains.  All visitors who are not pregnant should consider taking Diamox (acetazolamide) starting two days before travel. Tourists and residents should buy an inexpensive home pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels.  Anyone staying for more than a week should pursue testing for night time hypoxia and pulmonary hypertension when experiencing difficulty sleeping, fatigue or trouble breathing

Read articles on the Ebert Family Clinic Website for more information. I will add new information, discuss symptoms and diagnoses, and respond to questions. We have a power point available to interested groups. Personal evaluations and consults can be scheduled at Ebert Family Clinic with myself for children and Laura Amedro FNP for adults or children

Hi altitude Conference- peoples final.

7 thoughts on “The air is thinner up here!”

  1. Hurray! We’ve needed something like this for a long time! None of the doctors outside of the mountains know anything about altitude. They don’t even know that they don’t know!

    1. Laura and I are happy to take calls from travelers or potential residents about health concerns.

  2. Is Diamox safe for children to take? Last time we traveled to sea level, we stayed in Denver one night on our return and Cecelia did not get reentry HAPE.

    1. Yes! Dr. Eric Swenson, a sleep and pulmonary specialist from Seattle, spoke at our community seminar in Sept. He has done extensive research with this drug and finds it safe and effective even in small doses. I was using 5 mg/kg but he says 2 is enough.

  3. Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. Doctors at lower levels don’t understand the effects of altitude. When ever we travel to sea level we try to spend a night in Denver which does help re-entry.

  4. Is Diamox safe for an 8 year old to take daily on a long term basis? We currently live in Otavalo, Ecuador at 8,200 feet and my daughter has chronic fatigue daily. Blood work shows elevated red blood cells. After one year of seeing her constantly tired with no other symptoms we’re convinced it’s due to high altitude.

    1. I have not seen any studies on long term use of diamox for altitude, but it is used for other conditions long term and is safe. I would suggest she have a sleep study to see how her oxygen is at night. Trying diamox for a few days or weeks would be interesting, since it stimulates respiration. I have not treated any children for fatigue at altitude, but I would be happy to review her records or speak with you and her doctor. Has she been tested for pulmonary hypertension?

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