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Ask the Doc — Is there a Threshold for Altitude-Related Headaches?

Dear Doc,

I get a headache when I hunt elk from a camp at 11,000 feet, despite
living at 5,700 feet and cross-country skiing at 10,800 feet with no
symptoms. Is there a threshold when it comes to altitude illness?

Thanks in advance, Marilyn.

Hello Marilyn,

There is a threshold, but unfortunately it is different for everyone. While one person may experience a high altitude headache (the cardinal symptom of acute mountain sickness) at 11,000 feet, others may get a headache at 8,000 or none at any elevation in the lower 48.

If you know your personal threshold, you can help minimize the effects of a high altitude headache by staying fit and hydrated. As an additional measure, take ibuprofen; the latest research shows it works equally well as prescription acetazolamide at preventing a high altitude headache.

Hope you have a safe hunting trip.

Best,

Christopher Van Tilburg, MD



2 Responses to “Ask the Doc — Is there a Threshold for Altitude-Related Headaches?”

  1. Tweets that mention Adventure Discussions » Blog Archive » Ask the Doc — Is there a Threshold for Altitude-Related Headaches? -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PEMBAnews, Adventure Medical. Adventure Medical said: Ask the Doc — Is there a Threshold for Altitude-Related Headaches?: Dear Doc, I get a headache when I hunt elk f… http://bit.ly/ePjvxI […]

  2. Marilyn Stone Says:

    Thanks, Dr. Van Tilburg.
    One more question….is age a factor in acclimating to high altitudes?
    marilyn

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