Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
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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

Ill Effects of High Altitude

Q: I flew from New Jersey to New Mexico. The following morning, I woke up with a sharp pain over my left eye. I then I got out of bed, I felt very light-headed and cold.

Even in the shower, I had the chills and was sweating. After showering, I was unable to move, felt nauseated and my heartbeat was very fast. I blacked out for a few seconds.

After an hour of bad cramps and a horrible headache, I was able to get myself together. Since I never suffer from my period, someone said the problem may have been altitude. Does higher altitude have an effect on one's period?

Hoboken, NJ

A: Altitude can affect one's period, but usually only by changing the timing of your bleeding or causing you to skip a period or two. If you were flying to an elevation above 7,000 feet, you may have been experiencing altitude sickness alone. Symptoms include headache, nausea, chills, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and shortness of breath. See Altitude Adjustment for more information about altitude sickness.

Most symptoms fade in one to two days, but if they're severe during the flight, or if you are staying at a high altitude, treatment is immediate descent and oxygen. If this was altitude sickness, you may be at risk to get it again.

Preventive measures are to ascend slowly, drink plenty of water, stay well rested, limit physical activity for the first couple of days at altitude and avoid alcohol and tobacco. Some physicians also prescribe a medication called Diamox to particularly susceptible individuals.

Your experience sounds horrible. If I had to guess, I'd say it was a combination of dehydration, altitude sickness and your premenstrual state. You might also read SOS about PMS for more information about premenstrual syndrome.

Since your problems were so severe, you should definitely see your physician for a complete physical. Tell her what happened in detail - and write to let me know how things are going.

About the authors: Carol L. Otis, M.D., is Chief Medical Advisor to the Sanex WTA and a UCLA student health physician. Roger Goldingay is a former professional soccer player. They are married and the co-authors of The Athletic Woman's Survival Guide.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

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