Canned oxygen is a typical staple at ski resorts and high-altitude trip spots. Folks usually attain for it as a fast repair for treating altitude illness signs and for bettering sleep throughout their holidays. However does utilizing canned oxygen for altitude illness truly work?
Since using this product is so widespread, we wished to listen to what consultants throughout a number of fields needed to say about its effectiveness. So, we reached out to an orthopedic surgeon who focuses on 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 when you journey or climb to excessive elevations with out giving your self an opportunity to acclimate. Once you ascend to greater altitudes, air oxygen ranges lower. A fast change in air strain additionally happens. These atmospheric modifications could cause lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath, and different signs in folks of any age, gender, or health degree. Pregnant individuals are at the next threat for altitude illness, regardless of how bodily match they’re. So are folks with coronary heart and lung situations.
You don’t need to climb as excessive as Mt. Everest’s 29,000 ft to expertise altitude illness. Based on Cleveland Clinic, this situation impacts round half of all individuals who go to elevations above 8,000 ft. For example, when 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 finest pal’s manicurist’s boyfriend might swear by canned oxygen, however the consultants we spoke to all famous the shortage of strong proof about its claims. “Whereas there are some anecdotal stories of the advantages of utilizing canned oxygen, there’s typically no scientific proof to help 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 K. Middleton, MD, MPH.
Dr. Middleton notes that respiratory canned oxygen might assist athletes quickly improve their oxygen ranges. She stresses nonetheless that it’s not 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 price 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 vital to notice that it finally 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 folks’s perceptions of it. “There’s an attention-grabbing placebo impact witnessed by skilled mountaineers, that merely getting 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 could possibly 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 will not be an awesome technique, even when it’s labored for you prior to now. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that altitude illness presents in three medical syndrome levels:
- 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 demise 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 fast demise.
“Canned oxygen is just not a acknowledged therapy for altitude illness. Whereas medical-grade oxygen is a drug that’s regulated by america Meals and Drug Administration, canned oxygen is just not 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 folks ignore the advisable strategies of stopping and treating this situation. So, if you wish to use it be at liberty, simply be sure you even have a preventative backup plan in place.
truly forestall and deal with altitude illness
Regardless of their various opinions on canned oxygen, all the consultants 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 progressively by round 1,000-1,600 ft a day is finest. Take relaxation days at every elevation.
- Plan to reach at your remaining ascension a day or two earlier than snowboarding, climbing, or indulging in strenuous actions.
- Stay hydrated earlier than and through your ascent.
- Cut back or remove alcohol and caffeine.
- Eat gentle meals and keep away from heavy meals which will trigger indigestion.
- Get loads of relaxation.
- If you happen to’ve had altitude illness earlier than, discuss to your healthcare supplier about taking medicines that forestall sickness, equivalent to dexamethasone or acetazolamide.
In fact, when you really feel unwell, take a break, and don’t push your self previous your bodily limits. You might want to move to a decrease altitude and keep there till you are feeling higher. And if you’re experiencing extreme signs, it’s finest to hunt medical consideration straight away.
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