Moderator: HAZ - Moderators
Prescott is below the critical altitude for Altitude Illness. You may have some acclimitization issues but I haven't heard of anyone having problems in Prescott. I would expect that your wife would acclimate within a day or two. She might still have some shortness of breath on strenuous exertion, but that is normal.I haven't heard of anyone that really had that problem in Prescott or at that level.. . . I think that you have to go quite a bit higher to really worry about it.
Here are some excerpts from the International Society of Mountain Medicine websitePractically speaking, however, we generally don't worry much about elevations below about 2500 m (8000 ft) since altitude illness rarely occurs lower than this.
And as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.Normal Acclimatization
Acclimatization is the process of the body adjusting to the decreased availability of oxygen at high altitudes. It is a slow process, taking place over a period of days to weeks.
High altitude is defined as:
- High Altitude: 1500 - 3500 m (5000 - 11500 ft)
- Very High Altitude: 3500 - 5500 m (11500 - 18000 ft)
- Extreme Altitude: above 5500 m
Practically speaking, however, we generally don't worry much about elevations below about 2500 m (8000 ft) since altitude illness rarely occurs lower than this.
Certain normal physiologic changes occur in every person who goes to altitude:
- Hyperventilation (breathing faster, deeper, or both)
- Shortness of breath during exertion
- Changed breathing pattern at night
- Awakening frequently at night
- Increased urination
As one ascends through the atmosphere, barometric pressure decreases (though the air still contains 21% oxygen) and thus every breath contains fewer and fewer molecules of oxygen. One must work harder to obtain oxygen, by breathing faster and deeper. This is particularly noticeable with exertion, such as walking uphill. Being out of breath with exertion is normal, as long as the sensation of shortness of breath resolves rapidly with rest. The increase in breathing is critical. It is therefore important to avoid anything that will decrease breathing, e.g. alcohol and certain drugs. Despite the increased breathing, attaining normal blood levels of oxygen is not possible at high altitude.
I'm not sure what your wife's experience has been or if she has diabetes complications. If she is overly anxious, she can discuss this with your family physician. There are also products on the market to assist in altitude adjustment. Check out Colorado Altitude Training.Preventing AMS
The key to avoiding AMS is a gradual ascent that gives your body time to acclimatize. People acclimatize at different rates, so no absolute statements are possible, but in general, the following recommendations will keep most people from getting AMS:
- If possible, you should spend at least one night at an intermediate elevation below 3000 meters.
- At altitudes above 3000 meters (10,000 feet), your sleeping elevation should not increase more than 300-500 meters (1000-1500 feet) per night.
- Every 1000 meters (3000 feet) you should spend a second night at the same elevation.
Remember, it's how high you sleep each night that really counts; climbers have understood this for years, and have a maxim "climb high, sleep low". The day hikes to higher elevations that you take on your "rest days" (when you spend a second night at the same altitude) help your acclimatization by exposing you to higher elevations, then you return to a lower (safer) elevation to sleep. This second night also ensures that you are fully acclimatized and ready for further ascent.