Canned oxygen is a typical staple at ski resorts and high-altitude trip spots. Folks typically attain for it as a fast repair for treating altitude illness signs and for enhancing sleep throughout their holidays. However does utilizing canned oxygen for altitude illness truly work?
Since the usage of this product is so widespread, we needed to listen to what specialists throughout a number of fields needed to say about its effectiveness. So, we reached out to an orthopedic surgeon who makes a speciality of sports activities medication, a registered respiratory therapist, and a board-certified hyperbaric medication and medical toxicology doctor to search out out if canned oxygen is really a fast repair for stopping or treating altitude illness. Right here’s what they needed to say.
What’s altitude illness and why does it occur?
Altitude illness is basically a bunch of signs that may happen in the event you journey or climb to excessive elevations with out giving your self an opportunity to acclimate. Whenever you ascend to greater altitudes, air oxygen ranges lower. A speedy change in air stress additionally happens. These atmospheric adjustments could cause lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath, and different signs in individuals of any age, gender, or health stage. Pregnant individuals are at the next danger for altitude illness, irrespective of how bodily match they’re. So are individuals with coronary heart and lung circumstances.
You don’t need to climb as excessive as Mt. Everest’s 29,000 toes to expertise altitude illness. In response to Cleveland Clinic, this situation impacts round half of all individuals who go to elevations above 8,000 ft. As an illustration, in the event you’re planning on snowboarding at Telluride in Colorado, you’ll be schussing down slopes that attain 13,000 ft. Crossing the pond? Switzerland’s famed Matterhorn is shut to fifteen,000 ft. excessive.
Does utilizing canned oxygen for altitude illness assist?
Your greatest good friend’s manicurist’s boyfriend might swear by canned oxygen, however the specialists we spoke to all famous the dearth of stable proof about its claims. “Whereas there are some anecdotal studies of the advantages of utilizing canned oxygen, there’s usually no scientific proof to assist the declare that canned oxygen can cut back altitude illness or enhance athletic efficiency,” says Atlanta-based orthopedic surgeon and sports activities medication specialist, Kellie Ok. Middleton, MD, MPH.
Dr. Middleton notes that respiration canned oxygen might assist athletes quickly enhance their oxygen ranges. She stresses nonetheless that it isn’t a long-term resolution. Registered respiratory therapist, John Landry BS, RRT, agrees however takes a softer stance about its use. “Whereas the scientific proof could also be restricted, it is value contemplating incorporating canned oxygen as a preventative measure for altitude illness, particularly for individuals who have had success with it prior to now. It is necessary to notice that it in the end comes down to non-public desire and every particular person’s expertise,” he says.
Landry additionally notes that anecdotal proof about canned oxygen could also be based mostly on individuals’s perceptions of it. “There’s an fascinating placebo impact witnessed by skilled mountaineers, that merely gaining access to canned oxygen alleviates stress ranges and offers the psychological advantages of getting a perceived security internet,” he says.
Right here’s why relying solely on canned oxygen for altitude illness may very well be harmful
It’s clear that, when not handled successfully, altitude illness could make you very sick, or worse. For that cause, relying solely on canned oxygen as a repair is probably not an important technique, even when it’s labored for you prior to now. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) notes that altitude illness presents in three scientific syndrome phases:
- Acute mountain illness is when signs are delicate and just like a typical alcoholic hangover.
- Excessive-altitude cerebral edema happens with extreme signs together with breathlessness and lack of muscle management can happen. There’s additionally the potential for dying inside 24 hours after ataxia (lack of muscle management) happens if descent doesn’t happen instantly.
- Excessive-altitude pulmonary edema is a uncommon presentation of altitude illness that’s earmarked by extreme signs and the potential for speedy dying.
“Canned oxygen just isn’t a acknowledged therapy for altitude illness. Whereas medical-grade oxygen is a drug that’s regulated by the USA Meals and Drug Administration, canned oxygen just isn’t thought-about to be a medical product and can’t be marketed as a therapy or safety measure for any illness,” says board-certified hyperbaric medication and medical toxicology doctor, Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, FACEP, FUHM, FACMT.
Dr. Johnson-Arbor feels that utilizing canned oxygen to forestall or deal with altitude illness could also be probably harmful if individuals ignore the really helpful strategies of stopping and treating this situation. So, if you wish to use it be at liberty, simply ensure you even have a preventative backup plan in place.
Tips on how to truly forestall and deal with altitude illness
Regardless of their various opinions on canned oxygen, all the specialists we spoke to agree on these tried-and-true strategies for coping with altitude illness. First, it’s a good suggestion to take these steps to forestall it:
- Take it gradual and let your physique acclimate to greater elevations over time. Ascending steadily by round 1,000-1,600 toes a day is greatest. Take relaxation days at every elevation.
- Plan to reach at your closing ascension a day or two earlier than snowboarding, climbing, or indulging in strenuous actions.
- Stay hydrated earlier than and through your ascent.
- Scale back or eradicate alcohol and caffeine.
- Eat gentle meals and keep away from heavy meals which will trigger indigestion.
- Get loads of relaxation.
- For those who’ve had altitude illness earlier than, speak to your healthcare supplier about taking medicines that forestall sickness, resembling dexamethasone or acetazolamide.
In fact, in the event you really feel unwell, take a break, and don’t push your self previous your bodily limits. Chances are you’ll want to move to a decrease altitude and keep there till you’re feeling higher. And if you’re experiencing extreme signs, it’s greatest to hunt medical consideration immediately.
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