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Old 07-12-2016, 12:01 PM
 
4 posts, read 3,408 times
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I moved here about 3 weeks ago from NYC (sea level) to begin medical school. I figured that it would take a little time to acclimate to the altitude, but I NEVER expected it to be this bad. I am basically bed ridden, and concerned I may not be able to start school next week because of how sick I feel. I thought maybe it was some underlying health issue that was exacerbated by the altitude, but have been to an ENT, ER, urgent care, and have an appointment with a cardiologist to check my heart. So far everyone says I am healthy and they don't see anything physically wrong, which is leading me to believe it's from the altitude. Every time I get up I am dizzy and lightheaded, my heart is pounding out of my chest (the ER said I had tachycardia), I feel this constant pressure in my ears, headaches, extreme fatigue, and I have gotten to the point multiple times where I am about to faint while out around the city. I am drinking a ton of fluids (gatorade, water, etc.) to try and help, but nothing seems to be working. Has anyone ever heard of someone being unable to adjust to the altitude? I'm about to give up my place in school this year and have to reapply because of how sick I feel. This is clearly a very upsetting and derailing event for my life. I can't imagine living like this for four years of medical school when I need to be my best physically to do well. I'm just curious if anyone has taken this long or felt this bad before, and if so, have they improved. If there was a good chance I'd get better I could push myself to go to school, but at this point it doesn't seem like I am going to be able to adjust at all. Any help/suggestions are very appreciated.
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:15 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
758 posts, read 581,635 times
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My acclimation was weird.

The first week was fine, I didn't feel any different than when I would come on vacation. I even hiked up to 13,000 the second day I got here.

After the first week, I had loss of appetite and seemed to require 10+ hours of sleep. I was very groggy and felt weak. This last for about 4 weeks. After a month, I was able fly home to 500' for a few days, come home, and hike a 14er the same day.

My sister on the other hand was sick for about 5-6 months. It got so bad for her that she almost quit her job. Even after a year or so, she said she never felt 100%, and eventually moved back home. From what I heard from my friends, it seems like it takes 2-3 months on average.
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Old 07-12-2016, 12:23 PM
 
1,822 posts, read 1,390,065 times
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This topic has come up a lot in the past. Maybe someone can post links to save us of from having to repeat it all.

I think the consensus has been that there are definitely some who take a long time to adjust, and some that are (or were) never able to acclimate.
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Old 07-12-2016, 01:50 PM
 
3,797 posts, read 3,987,784 times
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Did you discuss altitude sickness with any of the medical staff you visited? Did any of them offer you referral to a specialist in this area? That is probably what you need over layman input.

Check here http://www.altituderesearch.org/clinic

or possibly here http://www.altitudemedicine.org/altitude-illness/

There is some medicine they might decide to prescribe.

Also the internet says avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking and some sleeping pills.

Probably should talk to your med school administrators to get their advice.

Not trying to be nosy but were you worried about altitude sickness beforehand or are you especially worried about med school? Sometimes people add something to the physical causes.

But bottomline seek out a specialist.

Last edited by NW Crow; 07-12-2016 at 02:03 PM..
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Old 07-12-2016, 04:08 PM
 
Location: Blah
4,153 posts, read 7,926,039 times
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This is how I felt during my first trips up around 8,000-12,000 elevations.

I strongly recommend 600mg of Advil every 4 hours. What I read was altitude sickness involves dehydration which you're drinking plenty of fluids but it also causes swelling of the brain. The Advil will help reduce the swelling. I was in misery, I could't sleep, I couldn't function and felt like throwing up! I took 600 mg of Advil (3 capsules) and started feeling better 30-45 minutes later. I've doing that every 4 hrs during my visits above 5k (only saw minor signs around 5k) plus drinking fluids and never had an issues since. That was about 2 yrs ago, I think my body has finally acclimated, I still have small signs of altitude sickness at 8,000 but it's very manageable and thats without taking Advil.
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Old 07-12-2016, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Around and about
571 posts, read 365,027 times
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Chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea helped me in Peru.
Doubt you'll be able to score any in Colorado though.
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:21 PM
 
4 posts, read 3,408 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NW Crow View Post
Did you discuss altitude sickness with any of the medical staff you visited? Did any of them offer you referral to a specialist in this area? That is probably what you need over layman input.

Check here Altitude Clinic

or possibly here Altitude Illness

There is some medicine they might decide to prescribe.

Also the internet says avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking and some sleeping pills.

Probably should talk to your med school administrators to get their advice.

Not trying to be nosy but were you worried about altitude sickness beforehand or are you especially worried about med school? Sometimes people add something to the physical causes.

But bottomline seek out a specialist.
Thanks for the response! I mentioned to all of the medical staff I've seen that I thought it might be altitude sickness, they seem to have as vague of an answer as anyone else. No one has suggested any medications like Diamox or anything to help relieve it. I guess because there's no real test to diagnose someone and say this is 100% from the altitude, they all seem to say it "could be" but they aren't sure and want to rule out any other more serious conditions before defaulting to altitude sickness.

Not being nosy, I was nervous about the altitude prior to moving here, but really am not nervous about med school. I'm nervous about this not going away and feeling lousy and being trapped here for 4 years more than anything. When I interviewed back in January I had a little episode of feeling dizzy and faint on my third day here, but I figured it was because I was an idiot and had alcohol and caffeine when I was here. Since my move I haven't had any of either, and drank ton of liquids.
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:23 PM
 
4 posts, read 3,408 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunderpig2 View Post
This topic has come up a lot in the past. Maybe someone can post links to save us of from having to repeat it all.

I think the consensus has been that there are definitely some who take a long time to adjust, and some that are (or were) never able to acclimate.
Sorry to bring this up again, didn't see the other posts! If you see the link I'll peruse through the old info on my own so I can get a better idea. Thanks a bunch.
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Old 07-12-2016, 05:50 PM
 
3,797 posts, read 3,987,784 times
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Here is one 13 page thread. Altitude Adaption?
I haven't read thru it but presumably a lot of things are discussed.

Most health professionals probably get acute cases generally solved by the basic suggestions, getting down from altitude / leaving or acclimatization. While some say they took months to get used to it and many did eventually, you have a lot on the line right now.
Think what you'd do if you had a patient in this position. Read what you can, but pursue your questions with folks with more knowledge and experience. Don't settle for the I don't know, non-helpful response even from those who probably should know more. There will be legit unknowns and can't get any furthers but I don't think you are there yet.

Don't take my advice on its own but possibilities for a case that lingers could be some supplemental oxygen. By a tank, some other means (I see mention of pills but don't know if that is sound or not) or perhaps driving to 3,000 feet or 1,000 feet and seeing if you feel different / better.

Other threads
Altitude / Acclimation / Dizziness / Breathing / Heart


living at altitude

Altitude adjustment, how long?

High Altitude Living

high altitude and breathing issues for newcomers

Health issues due to high altitude


Does the altitude ever force someone to move away?

Altitude- or Smog-Induced Asthma
Heart issues and altitude


Does altitude affect the heart?

altitude sickness in cheyenne

altitude sickness is killing me

I culled these dozen articles from the 125 threads that mention altitude in the title. There are probably thousands of posts in them and hundred or thousands of other stray posts out there. And hundreds and thousands of general interest internet links and probably hundreds of hardcore medical links out there. Your job is to get good or great at sifting these, pursuing information in a disciplined, contemplative way. This might not be your first case but it is an important one. Hope you handle it effectively.

Last edited by NW Crow; 07-12-2016 at 06:22 PM..
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Blah
4,153 posts, read 7,926,039 times
Reputation: 3057
Quote:
Originally Posted by lluvia View Post
Chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea helped me in Peru.
Doubt you'll be able to score any in Colorado though.
I had some friends who did the same in Peru and it worked great.
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