Sunday, January 12, 2014

Careful Getting High

After spending the evening with my ever-inspiring friend Rachel, she met every expectation and left me with my third installment of Inspiration Week. Without any prelude, I think I'll entitle this post:

Be Careful Getting High.

And now for the background: Rachel is moving to Colorado. And Colorado is known for having................. .....................well, you know....................... ............................ ........................ ......................... ................ ................... .......... MOUNTAINS!



Ok yeah yeah, mountains. But these aren't just any mountains- from someone who lives on the East Coast, these guys are massive. So massive, there's an adopted local lingo for them known as "fourteeners" referring to the fact that they rise over 14,000 ft above sea level! Well now if it's been slang-ified you know it's gotta be cool (that, and the fact that they jet up miles high into the sky).

Climbing these big guys is definitely a big deal, and not just because they're 53 of them (within the state). After doing a little research, I found out that thrill-seeking adventure hikers must be cautious climbing too high due to risk of altitude sickness. Honestly, I knew of no such thing. But here it is, all the reasons why you should be careful getting high:

  • There are 3 types of altitude related disease- Acute Mountain Sickness, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (don't think I'd mess with that last one...)
    • Acute Mountain Sickness
      • Commonly experienced when traveling above 3,500 m
      • Symptoms include: headache, nausea, fatigue, and disorientation all with a slow onset
      • Medication exists to prevent symptoms and can be taken up to a week in advance
      • To best acclimate, drink LOTS of water and travel SLOWLY
    • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema
      • Life threatening condition where fluid accumulates in the lungs
      • Symptoms include: difficulty breathing while at rest, coughing, chest tightness, cyanosis (aka blue tinted skin color)
      • Caused by low blood oxygen levels
      • What to do- descend and quickly obtain an oxygen mask!
    • High Altitude Cerebral Edema
      • Basically occurs when fluid permeates the blood-brain barrier. Potentially fatal.
      • Symptoms include: fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, ataxia, rapid heartbeat and severe headaches
      • Very rare- Only seen in 0.5-1% of hikers venturing above 4,000m
      • What to do- descend immediately, get oxygen and seek medical attention!
Good luck Rachel! ;)


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