Science your way to feeling better…at altitude

The challenge of altitude sickness is that it affects everyone differently- some feel it at 5,000, others not until 15,000 feet. It affects those in the best of shape as much as those in poor shape- there seems to be few to no indicators of whether a person will suffer from altitude sickness. In fact, I read somewhere a while back that on Kilimanjaro, anecdotal evidence showed that those with a history of smoking had a generally easier time on the ascent. At first this seemed to make no sense, but the reasoning is actually pretty logical. Someone with a history of smoking has forced their body to be use to getting lesser amounts of oxygen via the bloodstream (at lower, or normal, altitudes). So when they ascend to altitude and the percentage of oxygen available t them lessens, their body is already somewhat use to the effect. Compare this to the normal gyn-goer, who might be in stellar shape but they’ve been training at 500 feet above sea level, so their pristine condition is buoyed on having the full compliment of oxygen available to them.

With all that, any way to more easily counter the effects of altitude sickness (before it even hits) is somewhat of a holy grail for mountaineers and climbers. Bottled oxygen is nice, but first it’s only really relevant on seriously high peaks (20,000 feet vice 10,000 feet), and it’s logistically complicated.

Enter this recent study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, with a blind study showing that taking ibuprofen can help:

A small new study, published this week in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that people who took four 600-milligram doses of ibuprofen over a 24-hour period in which they ascended to 12,570 feet above sea level were less likely to experience altitude sickness than people taking a placebo.

The original story from CNN can be found HERE.


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