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My daughter has become sick several times on airplanes and once at Lake
Tahoe. Her symptoms include fainting, excessive yawning, and throwing up.
Medical tests didn't show any problems so altitude seems to be the most
likely issue. We're planning a trip to Tahoe this month and I wasn't able
to get much advice from our medical provider. The response I received was
that medication are not available for children. Any ideas? Anyone have
experience with this? Thank you.
We brought up our kids going to Lassen and Tahoe often. Proper
hydration will lessen the symptoms. Maybe baby aspirin for headaches.
Non greasy foods and light meals. No strenuous activity for the first
day (I know this is hard when you are only going for a weekend of
skiing...). Hope this is helpful to you (this is also from my years of
high altitude trips).
Well, I don't know what to do for children, but I've had altitude
sickness several times as an adult flying to Quito, Ecuador from sea
level. If possible, can you go a day or two in advance and stay at an
altitude about one-half or two-thirds the altitude you will be at when
at lake Tahoe? That will give her body time to adjust slightly which
will ease her transition to the higher altitude. The more time at a
reduced altitude, the better. Drinking lots of water helps, too. I
could only stomach one thing when I had altitude sickness: papaya
juice, made from real papayas with no other ingredients. Any melons
should help her stomach if she'll eat them. Hope this helps.
When we are going somewhere with a high altitude we drink lots and lots
of fluids, including some with electrolytes, like Recharge which is
more natural than gatorade. It has worked well for not getting
altitude sickness. Dehydration can be a problem.
I just bought ChlorOxygen at Pharmaca on Solano Ave last night. I am
not using it for altitude, but that is one of the conditions it treats.
It is Chlorophyll that aids transportation of oxygen in the blood. So
you get more oxygen to the brain and other parts of your body. So far I
only had one dose (alcohol free) and I feel great and haven't yawned at
all. I am using it together with Vertigoheel hoping to get rid of a
recurring, lingering vertigo condition.
I have no idea if this is based on actual data or anything, but when I
went trekking in Nepal I was told to eat a lot of garlic. I did and
never had any problems. Also, maybe if you go up more slowly it will
giveher some time to acclimate.
My son gets altitude sickness too. It usually hits about 8-12 hours
after we arrive at altitude and only affects him for about 24 hours and
then he's over it. Lots of water, lots of rest and he's done. However
it sounds like your daughter is much more affected by altitude. Have
you ever stayed at altitude long enough for her to adjust? In the most
severe cases I've ever seen, it goes away after a couple of days.
For some people, it just take time to acclimate to high altitude. I
recommend that for the first day, she just sit and read or watch tv. Or
maybe try beach vacations instead of mountain vacations. Another thing
that works is going up two weekends in a row. Do nothing the first
weekend, then the next weekend she might still be acclimated from the
previous time, and she can do normal activities.
I don't have any ideas, but one poster recommended baby aspirin for
children's headacahes, and I just wanted to put out the reminder that
aspirin is never recommended for children, due to chance of Reyes'
My roommates child had both motion and altitude sickness and responded
well to a combination of drammamine(sp) and the accupressure wrist bands
that can be found at drugstores.
I used ginger lolly pops for my vertigo and they worked, but I'm guessing
altitude sickness may not respond (preggiepops.com)
We are taking our 9 year old and his friend to the mountains at
10,000 foot elevation this Summer. Once I got altitude
sickness really bad, so I am looking for advise about how to
avoid it for the kids and ourselves, and also what to do about
it if you get it.
Thanks for any info
Several times I have flown from Los Angeles at sea level to Quito, Ecuador (at 9200 feet)
and boy, did I get altitude sickness BAD everytime. The only time I did not get altitude
sickness in Quito was when I spent a month at around 4000 -- 5000 ft and then went to Quito.
So, avoid going straight to 10,000 ft. If you can, take a couple (or few) days to work up
to it. Can you stay for a night or two (or more) at 5000 or 6000 ft on your way up? My
stomach also got so upset with altitude sickness that I couldn't eat and that made
everything worse. (This instantly went away when I dropped in altitude and I would gorge
myself after only having papaya juice for days in
Quito.) Could you ask your pediatrician if perhaps you could get some zantac or something
similar for your kids in case they get bad stomach aches so this way they can still eat and
will do much better? Also, the better athletic shape you are in before you go, the better
you will do. So run around with your kids LOTS before you go. As for the adults, alcohol
and cigarettes makes altitude sickness worse so avoid those while up high.
Good luck and have fun!
Just posted (about my trips to Quito) but forgot to mention: if you get a horrible case of
altitude sickness, just leave and go down in altitude. The one good thing about altitude
sickness is that symptoms immediately disappear as soon as you go down and get closer to sea
1. Ascend slowly. The longer it takes you to get to 10,000 feet, the better - gives your
body time to acclimate. Don't go from sea level to 10k without a few days' at lower
altitude; go slow! With my school-aged kids I would plan on 3 or 4 days at lower altitude,
working our way up.
2. Drink lots of fluids.
Good for you for going on an adventure. have fun!
I lived at 10,000 ft. altitude for a year. I was SO sick for the first couple of weeks-
mainly because of a severe forest fire- but also because that altitude is tough for even a
fit person! I've retured for extended stays in the same town, and it ALL comes down to this:
1. Drink LOTS, and I mean lots of water the week before. The 8 servings of 8oz just won't
cut it. For an adult I would bump it to around a gallon or more a day. You'll pee a lot, but
it will help with the headaches, fatigue and nausea a good bit.
2. Load up on potassium the week before, as well. Don't go overboard, but make it a point to
have consistent doses. I found a banana a day will do wonders! Continue this for a couple of
days after you arrive too.
3. Get lots of sleep prior and after you arrive. It will allow your body adequate rest time
to adjust to the lack of oxygen. In my experience, if I cut out any one of these, I had
horrible headaches and nausea and I just couldn't enjoy myself for several days after I
4. I don't know what anyone else would say about this, but I also found taking two
ibuprophen (sp?) in the morning and in the mid afternoon dilated my blood vessels or thinned
my blood (or whatever it does) enough to alleviate headaches brought on by the thin air,
which inadvertantly effected my eyesight. I would adjust the amount, of course, for the
kids- if you choose to give them that. BUT I have to say it did really help overall with the
altitude sickness. As a general rule, you may not want to plan any vigorous activities for
the first day to give your body time to adjust. Even an easy hike can leave you huffing and
puffing! Have a GREAT time!
Probably the two most important things for preventing altitude sickness are to take it easy
for the first couple of days and to stay well hydrated--very well hydrated. I think it's
suggested that you drink two to three times as much water as usual. It's also a good idea to
limit caffeine (like colas) and salty foods while aclimating. Don't get sunburned.
That said, some kids (and some adults) don't tolerate altitude well, and the most reliable
way to feel better is to get to a lower altitude. It can make a difference just to spend a
few hours at a lower altitude as a break, say 5000 or 6000 ft.
There is a medicine you can take, but I don't have experience with it, or know if it's ok
for kids Love thin air, myself
We did many backpacking trips in the Sierras when our children were young to altitudes as
high as 14,000 ft. We also trekked to 21,000 ft. in the Himalayas this year, so I have
recent experience with the effects of altitude and can appreciate your concern. The key
rule is not to ascend too quickly and if possible, to sleep lower than you have hiked during
Another rule of thumb is to rest a day after each 3,000 ft. of altitude gain. You should
also descend if you experience more than mild symptoms of altitude sickness (i.e., headache,
nausea, appetite loss, shortness of breath or lethargy).
Since poor judgment is also a symptom of altitude sickness,
good advance planning is recommended. For example, when we
hike to Vogelsang High Camp in Yosemite, we generally will make reservations to spend one
night in the Valley at 4,000 ft. and
2 nights in Tuolumne Meadows (8,500) before hiking to the 10,000 ft. camp. We also plan
dayhikes that are higher than we are sleeping (e.g, up Mt. Hoffman and Mt. Dana).
Diamox helps when trekking over 14,000 ft., but it shouldn't be necessary at 10,000 ft.
However, anti-acid tablets are good for mild nausea and aspirin or tylenol for headaches.
It is normal to experience some shortness of breath and weakness at altitude, so don't panic
if you or your children experience these symptoms. On the other hand, if anyone is
vomiting, having trouble breathing, suffering from a headache that does not ease with
medication, acting confused or losing their balance; you should probably descend.
However, if you go slowly and don't push your children, they should acclimate after a few
days at altitude and not be at any risk. Just try to have fun with them and enjoy the
beauty of the high mountains. Our backpacking trips were the best and most bonding times we
spent with our children and they learned self-reliance, goal setting and a love of the
wilderness. They were also very proud of their achievements and had a different attitude
about themselves and what they really needed when we
returned to civilization.
I always get the most sick in my hiking party and am always the most fit: I hate altitude
sickness! I've even done breath control exercises that are supposed to prepare the body as
though at high altitude, but no success. I've never been really sick, just the no appetite,
puking and splitting head-ache after a long day when I awoke at sea level, drove to 7,000
and hiked to 10,000. This is what I've learned:
acclimate slowly with at least one night at 7,000 before moving up. Exercise at 7,000 to
build your blood's capacity to carry more oxygen, but don't exhaust yourself. I'll repeat,
don't exhaust yourself, especially not while gaining elevation. If you or the kids get
lethargic, in addition to the puking and headache, descend immediately. I assume that you
are car camping. If not, I'd stay close to the car for the first couple of nights so you
can descend quickly if your symptoms progress.
Descent is the answer. I've never done an emergeny descent, but my friend strapped his
listless girlfriend to a yak in the middle of the night in the Himilayas, and she instantly
felt like a million bucks with just a few thousand feet of descent.
Altitude sickness is always worse at night, so have a night-time plan. If you feel good
after your second night at 10,000, I'd say go for it and hike-away from the roads that you
would need for a midnight descent. You can get drugs that minimize the altitude sickness
effects, but I've heard that thay are dangerous because they
can just mask the symptoms: I definitely wouldn't use them with kids. Have fun
hiking: wish i was going, seriously!
love the mountains (despite the puking)
We just came back from our second consecutive trip to the snow
in which my 10-year-old daughter came down - rapidly - with a
headache, mild nausea, and just a general complaint about not
feeling well. The first time we attributed it to over-hunger
and fatigue, but now that it's happened twice in a row, we're
wondering if perhaps it could be a reaction to higher
altitudes. Both times we were around 6500 feet elevation. As
soon as we got back to sea level, she perked right up. We used
to go to the snow all the time and this was never an issue.
She had mono this fall and is just now acting like her old
spunky self, so I don't think it's a belated consequence of
that virus, but these two times have been odd. Have other
parents experienced this with your kids? Thanks.
Holding off on the ski lessons
Hi! I haven't experienced altitude sickness with kids, but I
experienced this myself. Three times I have gone from sea level
to Quito, Ecuador which is at about 9200 ft in altitude. I
always got sick, with the same symptoms as your daughter:
headaches, nausea (so bad that I could only consume papaya juice
while in the city, even if for a week!), and just low energy.
As soon as I dropped in altitude, I was immediately fine, and
usually ravenous. I could eat anything (and I ate
everything!). The one time I did not experience altitude
sickness in Quito was when I arrived there after spending one
month living and hiking between 4000 and 5000 ft. For altitude
sickness, they suggest gradually ascending in altitude. Can you
spend a night on your way to the mountains midway between sea
level and 6500 feet, say somewhere in the foothills about 3500 -
4000 feet? Being in very good shape can also help adjust to
altitude. Could your daughter be anemic? Is she pretty
active? I wasn't in shape the three times I went to Quito and
got sick. Perhaps get a checkup for her before you go, or wait
until she's a little older and more active if you can't
gradually increase her altitude. You may want to talk with a
doctor or nurse experienced with travel medicine too (like a
travel clinic). Good luck!
My third daughter has altitude sickness. I was much slower
than the poster. It took me about eight years to figure it
out. Every time we went up to the mountains she was whiney and
wouldn't want to do anything. Then she began throwing up and
actually fainted. I finally got it. The doctor says there are
pills one can take but they only work some of the time. His
advise was she drink water--which she does--and take it easy
for the first 24 hours--which she does. Altitude sickness is
just something she has and has learned to live with it. When we
plan trips to the mountains we factor in time for adjustment
and usually by the end of the second day she is well enough to
join in activities and certainly by the third day she is fine.
I grew up in Salt Lake, we went up in the mountains all the time, and
sounds exactly like altitude sickness. I never had it, but my friends
sometimes did -- and my mom, who taught sixth grade and took her
students up to a mountain camp every year, saw lots and lots of it.
Her advice about what to do: eat less before you go and when you get
there, SERIOUSLY restrict the sugar, and take it very easy for the
hours (no running around).
I have a fair amount of mountaineering and hiking experience at
high altitudes and am familiar with signs of altitude
sickness. The headaches, nausea and ill-feelings your daughter
experienced, given the context in which she experienced them,
definitely point to altitude sickness, expecially when you say
she was fine once back at sea level. Some people can
experience these symptoms even lower than 6500 feet, such as
when visiting Denver, which is around 5000 feet. The fact that
your daughter was not bothered by the altitude previously has
little bearing on whether she may be affected in the future. A
person may feel no symptoms on one occasion, and be sick the
next. Drinking LOTS of water can help when at high altitudes.
Adults can take Diamox or other drugs to assist the body in
acclimatizing--not sure whether a doctor would prescribe for
children, though. Talk to a doctor who specializes in travel
medicine, as most general practitioners are not as up to speed
on altitude-related issues. Your daughter may be fine on the
next ski trip, or may have the same reaction as the last two
times... I would guess she will suffer the same symptoms next
time, though, since she has twice in a row.
We have a family cabin up in the Sierras at 8,700ft. It takes
at least one full day for my 3 year old daughter and myself to
get acclimated. Our symptoms have been fatigue, loss of
appetite and sometimes headaches for me. It sounds like
what your daughter may be experiencing is accute mountain
sickness, also called AMS. It is the most common form of
altitude sickness. It can occur at elevations as low as
4,000ft - 6,000ft. The symptoms are fatigue, loss of appetite,
nausea, headache and sometimes vomiting. My advice if
you want to ever go back to skiiing is - TAKE IT SLOW! Make
sure you let your daughter get acclimated. Try not to be too
physically active at first. Let her rest and relax for the first day
or two (this can be next to impossible if your trip is only for
the weekend). Make sure she drinks plenty of water, gets
plently of sleep (sometimes the altitude can effect your
ability to sleep).I've read that alcohol and some kinds of
medications can actually make the symptoms of altitude
sickness worse. Next time you go skiing with your daughter
just remember this basic rule of thumb with AMS: if you are
experiencing altitude sickness, no matter how mild, don't
push yourself physically and never go up to higher
elevations till you've rested a few days and have acclimated
to the elevation that you are at.
As far as I know, I didn't have any problems with altitude as a child,
although I never
went to any extreme heights. Somewhere around my late 20's, I would
feel like I had
a mild flu at about 3000' or more- I just considered it bad luck. Then
I went on an
easy backpacking trip at 5000', and felt terrible- disabling fatigue,
headache, mild nausea, and I couldn't eat- and my fellow hikers
enlightened me to
the fact that this was altitude sickness.
Friends told me that all I had to do was to allow a few days for
acclimation and it
would pass. So I went for a week's stay near Tahoe, and I was sick for
time- the worst part was a blinding headache. I barely summoned up the
a bit of very low-key cross country skiing. The only good part was that
I lost about
5# in one week since I had to force myself to eat much of anything.
I did some research and learned that I suffered from Chronic, rather
Altitude Sickness, which does not let up and the only remedy is to get
mountain. I took another trip to the Sierras in a couple of years and
Diamox, which did greatly lessen my symptoms but made me very spacey
I was interested to learn that Altitude Sickness is not fully
understood, but as I recall
it has something to do with the passage of oxygen through cell
membranes (I don't
remember in any detail), and has nothing to do with the inner ear which
thought it did.
I love the beauty of the mountains and will try again someday, in the
whatever was happening has modified with time.
Since recent posts have gotten people thinking about traveling with
toddlers, I wanted to add a request. We're going to travel to La Paz,
Bolivia, elevation about 12,000 feet, and have wondered about the
altitude effects on our toddler. We asked her pediatrician and she said
she couldn't really find anything specifically about this, so probably not
much of an issue. Anybody else have experience with this? Thanks.
We took our two and a half year old to Ecuador and stayed in the Andes
the whole time. I was pregnant then and it took me longer to adjust than
my husband or her. She seemed just fine, and had no problems. Have a good
There are two separate issues, short-term and long-term. Long-term (1
week +) your child will adjust, just like all the native-born children do.
Short-term, anyone who travels quickly from sea level to 12,000 feet
is very likely to experience altitude sickness (tiredness, dizzyness on
standing, lack of stamina, loss of appetite), which is debilitating
but not life-threatening. A few people who travel rapidly to 12,000 people
will experience high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), a life-threatening
disease which must be treated immediately. The treatment for HAPE is to
increase oxygen intake. The traditional means to do this is to go down in
elevation. The emergency way to do it is by use of oxygen breathing
equipment or a device called a Gamow bag, either or both of which would be
available in a La Paz hospital. However, prevention always beats treatment.
If you can spend some time (1-2 days) at an intermediate elevation before
going to La Paz (e.g., a stop off in Mexico City at 7500' or Cuzco,
Peru at 10,000', that will help. The plane flight itself will give some
acclimatization, because planes are usually pressurized to the equivalent
of about 6000'. In La Paz itself, you will find that the city is laid out
along a steeply-sloping hill, with the ritzier neighborhoods at the bottom
where the air is thicker. The airport is on the plateau abovethe city. Try
to arrange in advance to spend your first 2-3 nights at someplace at the
bottom of town, where the elevation is closer to 11,000. That 1000
feet will be quite noticeable!
If you want more info, there are numerous mountaineering websites with
info on HAPE. One operated by an emergency medical service in Nepal is
particularly good. I researched all of this intensively 2 years ago
before a personal trip to over 20,000 feet on which we brought a Gamow bag
and used it to resuscitate a climber who came down with HAPE at 19,000'. I
don't have any of the Web addresses anymore, but a search for "HAPE"
and "climbing" should get you started.
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