Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Altitude Adjustment


Who's Susceptible?

Surprisingly, being in good shape is no protection against mountain sickness. Studies suggest the young and athletic may even be more susceptible, although the reasons aren't clear. Perhaps it's because highly fit people tend to climb faster. No one really knows why one person is more likely to develop altitude sickness than another.

If you've experienced altitude sickness in the past, you're more likely to get it again. However, just because you went to altitude last time and didn't get sick doesn't mean you won't get sick in the future. The body does adjust to the reduced oxygen at altitude, but this can take three weeks or longer.

Almost immediately upon arriving at altitude, two adaptations occur in your body: an increase in respiratory and heart rates, at rest and during moderate exercise. You may find yourself panting after climbing just a few steps.

Your body also adapts to altitude by Increasing the number of red blood cells to transport oxygen to the muscles, brain and other organs. Climbers who have been at altitude for many weeks have shown an increase of nearly 40 percent in their circulating red blood cells. This adaptation begins soon after reaching altitude, but it may not be completed for two months or longer.

If you are anemic (have a low red-blood-cell count), traveling to high altitudes can seriously reduce your exercise ability. Iron supplementation raises a woman's blood cell count to nearly the same level as a man's count during altitude adaptation.

These adaptations improve your body's oxygen transport system. They are the reason many distance runners train at high altitude. When you return to lower altitude, the increased supply of red blood cells provides more oxygen to exercising muscles. However, these adaptations disappear after three to four weeks at low altitude.

Women who don't experience these adaptations often are the ones who develop mountain sickness. Dehydration and depressants such as alcohol, sleeping pills and codeine can slow your body's adaptation and make you more susceptible to a problem.

What can you do to prevent altitude sickness?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
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Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

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