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Becca

Traveling in High Altitude Areas with POTS

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Hi All,

 

I am traveling to Peru next month to visit my boyfriend's family and we are visiting Machu Picchu and Cusco, both places located at high altitudes. I was wondering if anyone on this forum with dysautonomia/POTS has visited these places or has experience being in high altitude.  I would like to know how it affected your symptoms and if you did anything either before/during/after that helped. Any advice/knowledge is greatly appreciated! 

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Sounds like a wonderful trip.  I think it can be hard to predict how any one will respond to high altitude.  Even very fit people with no health conditions can get altitude sickness or have symptoms when experiencing a quick change in altitude.

There have been past discussions on the forum about this.  It seems some POTS patients are not that affected.  Some say they feel better!?

I went to Cusco and Machu Pichu in 2000.  It was prior to diagnosis.  But I had mild symptoms off and on that were undiagnosed.  I had a really hard time the first day or so I was there.  I basically had to lie down and rest and my hr was thru the roof if I tried to do anything (even just walk slowly).  I did adjust and after I think 3 days I felt well enough to walk Machu Picchu along with the rest of the visiting throng.  Fortunately we were in Cusco for 2 days first and while I missed out on some things in Cusco I was well for seeing MP.

You probably already know this, but hydrating well prior to arrival and staying hydrated is super important (for anyone).  There is an herb with a strong aroma they use for altitude sickness that you breathe--I will never remember the name of it now.  But our guide brought me some and it seemed to help relieve symptoms.  They also offer oxygen in various places--hotels, etc in Cusco.  That can bring short term relief.  It is really important not to overdo activity.  If you are feeling at all poorly it is better to rest otherwise you may get worse.

Hope you have a great trip.

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I personally have problems with the slightest altitude change when I’m having a flare. The only thing that helps is your regular meds, whatever keeps you normal usually, and then take a rescue med in case you need it. when it’s bad, an Ativan calms down the attack that happens when my ANS senses the pressure changes. 

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I vacationed at 7,900 ft this summer.  There were 6 adults and 3 kids on the trip.  Three of the adults have POTS, of which 2 also have NCS and 1 CFS.  Everyone got a headache the first day or 2.  Most of the adults mentioned getting winded with exertion much easier than at sea level.  Everyone felt normal by the end of the week.  I kept checking my SpO2 on my phone, and it went from 98 - 100 % at sea level to 87 - 93%.  Overall my experience was about the same as everyone else's.  The extremely low humidity removed a variable that usually makes me feel poorly (dewpoint temperatures were in the mid 40's Fahrenheit, compared to 60 - 75 at home).  Note that I am not as badly off as some people here (full time job, not housebound).

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I had to go to Denver last year when my symptoms were still really rough and that trip was insanely difficult. The altitude hit me hard. (I have POTS/small fiber neuropathy).

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