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Altitude considerations for Western US travel with children
Old 04-09-2009, 12:02 AM   #1
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Altitude considerations for Western US travel with children

I have read that there might be a risk to taking children over the Rockies due to the altitude. The article was written for a medical professional and I am certainly not. My kids are 10 and 3. Has anyone heard of this and if so can you explain the risk?

Thanks in advance for any information.
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Old 04-09-2009, 01:24 AM   #2
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I don't know about kids but I get higher than a kite when I go though the Colorado Rockies. For some reason I didn't get that same effect in other states and Canada in the Rockies.
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Old 04-09-2009, 06:08 AM   #3
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I don't know about kids but I get higher than a kite when I go though the Colorado Rockies. For some reason I didn't get that same effect in other states and Canada in the Rockies.
Rocky Mountain high...Colorado!

There are plenty of kids living in Colorado, I don't see why it would hurt them so long as you are below 12,500 feet, which you would not reach unless you were flying or hiking far beyond civilization.

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Old 04-09-2009, 06:42 AM   #4
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I think there is some concern when taking a child that normally lives in a low altitude suddenly to a high altitude. I guess it could make some kids sick (adults too for that matter).

For what it's worth, at 8 months I had my girl as high as 6100' hiking in the Alps with no ill effects. We spoke to our doctor beforehand and she gave us the all clear.
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Old 04-09-2009, 06:59 AM   #5
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Except for altitude sickness what did the article say is the danger?

Altitude sickness - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:47 AM   #6
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My uncle was a pilot...took his kids from sea level to 12,000 in his twin cessna all the time, from the time they were babies. His plane(s) were not pressurized, and climbed at about 1400fpm. So they went from sea level to altitude in 9-10 minutes. I flew with them on several occasions and knew that most of the time he flew the 310 over 10,000 feet.

The kids are all now in their 40s, and have never had any problems related to being at high altitude. It would be pretty hard to convince me that this is an issue for 99.9% of kids, but would be interested to know if there are specifics. Thanks.

R
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:39 AM   #7
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When I was a kid back in the 1950's my parents took me to some high altitude cities. None of us were acclimated to high altitude at all. It seemed to me that the adults were affected much more than the kids though I did feel a little sick once, in Mexico when I was about 8. At the time, it seemed to me more like a virus than altitude sickness but my parents thought it was the latter.

It is best for all to relax, enjoy yourself, and avoid heavy exercise. Get help with the luggage.

Probably your pediatrician can give you some advice and perhaps even some medications for the kids, to use "just in case".
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:06 PM   #8
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If your children have a history of ear infections give them a decongestant before starting the climb. Teach the older child how to clear their ears.

I raised my children in Portland, OR where some routes through the west hills involved a fairly quick change of elevation. One kid had chronic ear problems.. MD opined that the area had a high rate of ear infections, perhaps because of the changes in pressure.
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:11 PM   #9
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Commercial aircraft are pressurized from 7,000 to 8,000 ft. So if you are concerned about altitude, they will be higher than Denver in an air craft. You did not post a link to the article, I would sure like to see what he bases his opinion on.
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:26 PM   #10
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I don't know about kids but my VW Bus going over the Continental Divide in 1970 on the way to Alaska developed a strange case of not wanting to go any higher. I had to really coax the thing up hill. Oh yes we had three kids in the bus (9, 7 and 4 years of age) and there were no repercussions for them that I can remember.
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:26 PM   #11
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... though I did feel a little sick once, in Mexico when I was about 8.
I'd suspect the water more than the altitude...
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:31 PM   #12
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Commercial aircraft are pressurized from 7,000 to 8,000 ft. So if you are concerned about altitude, they will be higher than Denver in an air craft. You did not post a link to the article, I would sure like to see what he bases his opinion on.
Many passes are a lot higher than Denver. I notice my ears needing to be equalized when going through passes. I took my kids over various passes often-we always took care to see that they were able to keep their ears cleared. This gets somewhat trickier if they have allergies or a cold or chronic ear problems.

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Old 04-09-2009, 07:37 PM   #13
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We are coastal folks but travel in CO and NM at least once a year, the last 4 with kids. I have not noticed any ill effects and in fact had not heard of anything to that effect. As an adult, I have noticed that when I was out of shape getting much above 7k feet elevation tended to make me loopy and weak. But since I have gotten in shape it isn't really an issue andI can pretty much go about my business in the high plains and passes.
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:55 PM   #14
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Altitude can be a problem if:

1. you go up too fast
2. you have a low oxygen level to start with (e.g. congenital heart disease, significant lung disease)
3. you have a blood disease such as sickle cell.

I expect these would apply irrespective of age.

As for medications to alleviate altitude sickness, other than the coca leaves that people chew at Macchu Pichu, the best treatment is to come down.

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Old 04-09-2009, 08:30 PM   #15
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I live at altitude and when a bunch of kids came here for a wedding none of them had any problems. We all went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and only the adults who lived at sea living did any huffing and puffing. The kids walked right up the mountain!
Also, I used to bring my kids here for skiing when we lived at sea level. They had no altitude adjustment problems and started skiing the first day. We all drank lots of water, which is the primary advice for dry, high altitude.
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:06 PM   #16
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Thanks to all for your information. Here is a link to the article I found:

Travel to High Altitude with Children
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Old 04-10-2009, 01:31 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Rambler View Post
My uncle was a pilot...took his kids from sea level to 12,000 in his twin cessna all the time, from the time they were babies. His plane(s) were not pressurized, and climbed at about 1400fpm. So they went from sea level to altitude in 9-10 minutes. I flew with them on several occasions and knew that most of the time he flew the 310 over 10,000 feet.

The kids are all now in their 40s, and have never had any problems related to being at high altitude. It would be pretty hard to convince me that this is an issue for 99.9% of kids, but would be interested to know if there are specifics. Thanks.

R
I don't think a rapid ascent from sea level to 12,000ft is normally very safe. The reason why it's safe to do so on a short flight is because they're only up there for a short time (altitude sickness is a result of fluids leaking into places like your skull or lungs and the build-up of those fluids over time, so a quick trip to high altitude doesn't pose much risk). But taking someone quickly from sea level to 12,000ft and leaving them there for a day or two, that's a completely different story, and probably not recommended...
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Old 04-10-2009, 08:27 AM   #18
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OK,
I read the article. I would say the key is the part that says children are suspect to the same problems adults are subject to. He goes on to explain some of the complications and what could cause them. I suspect, from reading, any adult with the same conditions would suffer also. I did not get from the article that it was dangerous to take kids to CO. or any othe high altitude place. They, like adults are susceptible to altitude sickness.
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Old 04-10-2009, 08:44 AM   #19
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I looked for the original scientific article via our university library, which led me to an external link to the journal. However, the issue in question was not available. This is a problem with the indexing service, which appears to have cancelled the subscription. So I can't comment on the science.
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Old 04-10-2009, 09:01 AM   #20
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OK,
I read the article. I would say the key is the part that says children are suspect to the same problems adults are subject to.
It would have been more interesting if he said they exploded.
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