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 Effects of High Altitude on COPD Individuals
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lyndan88
Rookie

USA
1 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  09:48:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Have to go to Denver (mile high city) from sea level home - My doctor is freaking...should I???
Seeking info regarding people who've travelled to high altitude locations and their experiences....

Ell

tsainta
Contributing Member

USA
1316 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  09:58:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
From my own experience and experiences I've read about through this forum, I think DLCO is a key factor in altitude tolerance. DLCO, which is measured during a pulmonary function test (PFT), assesses the ability of your lungs to pass oxygen into your bloodstream. Mine was measured at 23% of expected four years ago and I would be virtually immobile even with supplementary oxygen at Denver's elevation. People with higher DLCO's seem to be less sensitive to altitude regardless of their FEV1, the most common measure of COPD severity.

Tony-CA

There's really no point to spending a lot of time worrying about old age; it just doesn't last that long.
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webbydeb
Member

USA
179 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  10:00:32 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well, I live just south of Denver and love it! If you have oxygen, just pump it up some. People become acclimated in a couple of weeks.
I can't say about traveling higher because I just haven't driven up through the mountains in ages.

For me, when I travel to sea level I have a terrible time with the air and have a harder time breathing.
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Helen-CO
Member

163 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  10:07:20 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There are many factors involved and you haven't given us much info; i.e. are you on 02? Do you have a pulse oximeter? (If not, you should definitely get one.) Is your COPD mild, moderate or severe? Is the dr. who freaked a pulmonologist and can he prescribe the test to determine if you need 02 at altitude? Are you driving or flying?

I live in Fort Collins CO (same elevation as Denver) and can tell you the air is very 'thin' here; even healthy visitors to the state can suffer altitude sickness.
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Helen-CO
Member

163 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  10:18:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Deb--small world! I find just the opposite when I travel to a lower elevation--I can turn my 02 down several liters.

Tony--my DLCO is 22% and I do need 02 @ 6 liters for exercise at this mile high elevation, but other than that I experience no problems (as long as I stay in good physical condition).
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jmrommes
Contributing Member

1234 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  10:23:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Why is your doc freaking? Are you already on a very high flow of O2 (12 - 15 lpm)? Do you have COPD? What is you FEV1? Do you use O2 at all?

I'm 67, my FEV1 is 34%, and I just recently asked for O2 for exercise so I could increase the intensity of my workouts. I spent a week in Denver in May at the American Thoracic Society's conference and I knew I was going to need O2 24/7 to stay adequately saturated while there. I fly through Denver regularly, and can do all right in the airport as long as I take it easy, but to actually DO anything there, I needed O2. I use liquid O2, and made arrangements to have a reservoir delivered to my hotel room, took my Smart Dose with me in my checked luggage, and had a great time.

If you have an oximeter, take it with you, check your O2 sat levels regularly, use the O2 as prescribed and have a great time. There's no need for your doc to freak unless you currently use O2 at a very high flow. Sounds like your doc isn't very well versed in COPD and O2 usage......

Jean

Exercise not only lets me live, it enables me to have a life.
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Helen-CO
Member

163 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  11:19:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Jean - Your posts have been such as inspiration to me to keep exercising and striving to do more. Do you mind telling us what your DLCO is?
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jmrommes
Contributing Member

1234 Posts

Posted - Jul 01 2011 :  8:46:39 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My DLCO is 58 - 59....quite high compared to many. I'm sure that helps a lot with exercise and energy level.

Jean

Exercise not only lets me live, it enables me to have a life.
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Dave-OH
Administrator

USA
3441 Posts

Posted - Jul 02 2011 :  12:17:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The question is what is your DLCO and are you on O2? I avoided a trip to Denver at my doctors suggestion, but if I had really wanted, I would have gone. National Jewish is in Denver and they are the best Lung Hospital.

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CarolCA
Contributing Member

USA
3216 Posts

Posted - Jul 02 2011 :  12:34:43 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am very sensitive to altitude. I am seldom if ever SOB and even when I had 66% DLCO and pretty good FEV1 I felt the altitude even at 2500 ft. No explanation. Felt lightheaded and was headed to SOB. Now that my DLCO is lower and my FEV1 is lower I wouldn't go above 2000 ft without O2.
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webbydeb
Member

USA
179 Posts

Posted - Jul 02 2011 :  10:17:24 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Helen-CO

Hey Deb--small world! I find just the opposite when I travel to a lower elevation--I can turn my 02 down several liters.


Helen -
San Francisco kicks my butt. I have more sob and have frequent coughing fits. Maybe it's the humidity....not sure. Phoenix also gets to me, but maybe it's the heat. I tend to want to drop to my knees! Those are the only two cities I've traveled to since my diagnosis.
{Waving to Ft. Collins from Parker}
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CarolCA
Contributing Member

USA
3216 Posts

Posted - Jul 03 2011 :  01:36:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This just shows how different we all are. I live just outside SF and it is the only place I can really breathe well because of the moisture in the air because it is cool moisture as opposed to Florida which is hot moisture. I cannot breathe in Florida.
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webbydeb
Member

USA
179 Posts

Posted - Jul 03 2011 :  12:21:22 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I guess it's what one is acclimated to. Colorado is high desert plains for the most part (except for the mountains) so my body and lungs are acclimated to dry, high altitude. You're acclimated to cool moist air and sea level.

I'd never make it in Florida myself, except maybe in the middle of winter. Between the heat and the humidity, I'm sure I'd have to use a wheelchair!
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CarolCA
Contributing Member

USA
3216 Posts

Posted - Jul 03 2011 :  2:25:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was living in Reno for quite a while which is high desert and was having problems which I thought were allergy related so we moved back to the Bay Area. No problems for almost 18 years and then got sick and found out that all my problems had been COPD. I used to see COPD on my chart but noone ever really told me what it was when I was living in Reno. Ithought it was just something from allergies and asthma. Dumb but then info was not as available as now. I loved Reno and would move back in a flash if I could breathe there but then it not the little town it was when I lived there.
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PennyPA
Contributing Member

USA
4757 Posts

Posted - Jul 03 2011 :  6:04:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Carol, my son, who currently lives in Las Vegas and used to love it but said it's not the neat town it used to be, has property in Reno and when he and his wife retire (both for the second time), they're planning on building in Reno.

****************************************************************

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The Good News: Youíre still the pilot.

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hamtol
Member

USA
251 Posts

Posted - Aug 26 2011 :  12:54:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I live in Chicago. I've been to Denver several times, and to Switzerland 4 times in the past 10 years. The only breathing problems I had happened after I got back to Chicago. But that might be because I caught terrible colds on the planes coming back each time. Don't you wish that contagious people had enough sense to stay at home rather than spread their germs? I think that they are more dangerous to our health than any other factor with the exception of cigarette smoke. Gus
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