Amazon.com
Backpacking Forums
BackcountryGear.com
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store
 
 ULTRA-LIGHT 

Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel


the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags

 CAMPING & HIKING 

Backpacks
Tents
Sleeping Bags
Hydration
Kitchen
Accessories

 CLIMBING 

Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial

 MEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 WOMEN'S APPAREL 

Jackets
Shirts
Baselayer
Headwear
Gloves
Accessories

 FOOTWEAR 

Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear

 CLEARANCE 

Backpacks
Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel
Climbing
Footwear
Accessories

 BRANDS 

Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva
Osprey
Smartwool

 WAYS TO SHOP 

Sale
Clearance
Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Shelters
BackPacks
Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment
Kitchen
Hydration
Climbing


 Backcountry Gear Clearance


 WINTER CAMPING 

Shelters
Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen

 SNOWSPORTS 

Snowshoes
Avalanche Gear
Skins
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters
Accessories

Stay Healthy--Eat Well

MARY JANES FARM ORGANIC MEALS

Mary Janes Farm Organic Backcountry Meals

NATURAL HIGH GOURMET MEALS

Natural High

 

Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#148815 - 04/03/11 03:46 PM kids and altitude sickness
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
Does anyone have any good advice on minimizing altitude sickness in children? I've read about keeping hydrated, eating carbs, etc., but wanted to see what others here think.

Last year, we did a day hike to a ranger lookout post at just over 9000 feet. Where we live is about 3200 feet. Neither I nor my wife felt any effects of the altitude (aside from the need to catch our breath more often). On the way back down, our son (almost 8) complained about a headache and got sick when we arrived back at the car. After giving it some thought, both me and my wife kicked ourselves for not being more attentive to altitude sickness before making the hike. We both grew up in higher elevations than where we now live, and I just don't think we feel it as much. (We felt really bad for letting it happen though....)

I think the main problem was doing this trip as a day hike and going up and down too fast. Does anyone have advice that would allow us to make this trip in a day and minimize the risk of altitude sickness for our son, or should we just abandon the idea for a day hike? Can we build up to it earlier with graduated hikes to higher elevations, or does it even make a difference?

I should clarify, the trailhead starts at just under 7000 feet and it's 3 miles to the top (approx 2500 feet elevation gain on the hike). It's only an hour and a half to the trailhead, so it's still a pretty significant altitude change overall.


Edited by MTvagabond (04/03/11 05:48 PM)
Edit Reason: clarify
_________________________
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

Top
#148824 - 04/03/11 07:36 PM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: MTvagabond]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
The advice is the same as for adults. Acclimate. Don't go too high too fast. Go down if you have symptoms.

Staying hydrated and eating enough helps a lot.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001190/
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

Top
#148829 - 04/03/11 08:18 PM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: MTvagabond]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6370
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Lori is right--acclimatize slowly and don't try for that much altitude gain in a day.

It appears that children and teens are often more susceptible to altitude problems than are adults. I found this to be true with my children. That makes it even more important to acclimatize slowly. At least spend a day or (better) two at the altitude of the trailhead before you hike this trail again or, better yet, find another trail with less elevation gain. (After that experience, I very much doubt that your son will consent to do the same trail again!) If you're backpacking, try to gain no more than 1,000-1,500 feet each day between campsites (symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness are most apt to appear during sleep). It is fine to climb higher during the day and then reduce altitude to sleep (the preferred acclimatization method), but don't go so high that AMS symptoms appear. Each person is a bit different in reactions to high altitude, too. There is no way to predict and fitness level has little to do with it.

It once was thought that acclimatization to high altitude, once achieved, would last for years. It has more recently been shown that this is not true. (I found this out for myself, too.) It now appears that acclimatization is lost almost as fast as it is gained.


Edited by OregonMouse (04/03/11 08:29 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

Top
#148845 - 04/03/11 10:59 PM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: OregonMouse]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
Since that particular experience we have been pretty cautious about our altitude gain, and have paid greater attention to how he feels on the trail. Unfortunately, we have to consider times when he might be faking just to get out of a hike (don't get me wrong- he really does like backpacking but has a hard time with motivation the first mile or so). Our longer hike last year had some moderate elevation gain at first, up to about 6500 ft the first day, but stayed within that range for the rest of our trip. He mentioned headaches a few times, and we took them seriously. Lots of breaks, water, and snacks, and he kept going without any major complaints or additional symptoms.

I think we might have to find a way to modify our trip if we want to go to the top of the peak again. I'm not sure if we would consider camping lower or not, but it's a thought. There is a lot of traffic on the trail, and the main attraction is really the view from the peak.

I think we could talk our boy into the trip again (he had more issues with the horse flies the first mile than the altitude sickness). But we would want to know that it's safe to attempt it, and pay more attention to the signs on the way. For now, we'll probably avoid that particular hike until he has had experiences at other, lower altitudes. That way, we can start to get a better sense of what is realistic for him in a day without making him ill. Thanks Lori and Mouse.
_________________________
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

Top
#148858 - 04/04/11 08:26 AM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: MTvagabond]
Paulo Offline
member

Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 158
Loc: Normally Pacific Northwest
One of the frustrating things about altitude sickness is that the adjustments have to be done on the same trip. There's no guarantee that 6 months down the road you will or will not have the same problem.

I've been living at 10500 for almost a year. I tried an ascent to 20500 while on Diamox (altitude medicine) and had mild headaches and ringing in my ears.

Two weeks ago I went from 10500 to 14750 and had terrible headaches on the 3rd day and horrible nightmares.

It really is tough to predict how your body will respond.

Slow ascents and lots of water as has been said is very important. Another thing is low protein. Protein requires around 10% more oxygen to digest than carbs (that's not 10% of the oxygen, just 10% more than what is necessary to digest carbs).

There is a trick of pursing your lips and then exhaling with forced breath. This forces more oxygen into the lungs and is an old trick for high altituders.

Honestly though, most of the time the only real help is to descend once the effects start getting bad.
_________________________
Without a doubt, the hardest thing of all in a survival situation is to cook without the benefit of seasonings and flavourings. - Ray Mears

http://theoutdooradventure.net

Top
#148894 - 04/04/11 11:26 PM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: Paulo]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
I didn't know that about the protein. That's really helpful! Interestingly, it was after we had started back down that he started to complain about headaches and feeling sick to his stomach. Because we didn't really know what we were dealing with at the time, we hurried to get back to the car as soon as possible. This fast descent probably just made things worse.

Thanks for your ideas.
_________________________
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

Top
#148906 - 04/05/11 09:24 AM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: MTvagabond]
Paulo Offline
member

Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 158
Loc: Normally Pacific Northwest
Getting down is good. The symptoms can often be delayed as you noted...
_________________________
Without a doubt, the hardest thing of all in a survival situation is to cook without the benefit of seasonings and flavourings. - Ray Mears

http://theoutdooradventure.net

Top
#148925 - 04/05/11 03:37 PM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: Paulo]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6370
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Paolo is right--when symptoms appear, descend as fast as you safely can!
From NOLS' "Wilderness First Aid" on Altitude Illness.


Edited by OregonMouse (04/05/11 03:38 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

Top
#148941 - 04/05/11 11:34 PM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: OregonMouse]
MTvagabond Offline
member

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
There's probably not a good rule of thumb here, but how far should a person descend if they start to feel the effects of altitude sickness? Does it make sense to go back down, say, 1000 feet and wait for an hour to see if the effects diminish, or is there some other standard? If I'm out for a three or four day trip and started to feel like I was getting altitude sickness, I wouldn't want to lose too much mileage by going down farther than necessary? I just want to see what others have experienced on this.

I can't remember ever having to deal with altitude sickness for myself (or else I didn't realize the symptoms at the time), so I don't have much experience in this area.


Edited by MTvagabond (04/05/11 11:35 PM)
Edit Reason: typo
_________________________
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

Top
#148943 - 04/05/11 11:50 PM Re: kids and altitude sickness [Re: MTvagabond]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
First, I would have to say that you need to monitor each incident and respond accordingly. None of my kids (nor any of the other children I have hiked with) has ever had altitude sickness. With adults, however, I have been on 12 trips where someone got sick (nausea and headache). In each case, dropping 1000 to 1500 ft did the job. I have been lucky; over 17000ft and the most I have felt is just winded.

Top

Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
 
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
 
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Bivvy Sack combo Arrangement
by Jim M
Today at 01:58 AM
what is the lightest framed backpack around 40L
by toddfw2003
10/16/17 07:23 PM
a worthy challenger to the msr pocket rocket2
by the-gr8t-waldo
10/16/17 01:28 PM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Napa Fires
by balzaccom
10/11/17 07:43 PM
Backpacking the Ouachita Trail thanksgiving
by toddfw2003
10/05/17 11:54 PM
Rockfalll on El Capitan in Yosemite
by balzaccom
09/28/17 09:47 AM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
alcohol stove comparisons
by Bike_packer
10/03/17 08:56 PM
Can footprint plasticizer harm tent ground-sheet?
by Weston1000
09/10/17 02:24 AM
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
1 registered (), 35 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
Weve, Tones21, Pasquale, Rahultravel, Tated
12422 Registered Users
Forum Links
Disclaimer
Policies
Site Links
HOME
Backpacking.net
Family Hiking
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Outdoor Gear Daily Deals
Outlets, Sales, Bargains

Our long-time Sponsor, BackcountryGear.com - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum
 
 

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum.com