Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

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tupacperu
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Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby tupacperu » Mon May 31, 2010 2:56 pm

Tragedy of brilliant student who competed at Commonwealth Games killed by altitude sickness on gap year in Peru

Did not realize that altitude sickness could be fatal. Especially if this girl was an athlete

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... -year.html


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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby Rene » Mon May 31, 2010 9:55 pm

tupacperu wrote:Did not realize that altitude sickness could be fatal. Especially if this girl was an athlete

You just expressed the common misconception. An excellent physical condition does not prevent you from getting altitude sickness. It is rather random, one time you have a lot of issues, the other you don't feel a thing.

The first time I travelled to Peru I got sick already at Colca Canyon despite the fact that I was a fanatic cyclist and had "conquered" many high passes in Europe (up to 2800 m) half a year before. My condition got worse by the time we arrived in Puno. I was hospitalised in Puno for three days with an oxygen mask and got fluids in my lungs. Fortunately the drugs the doctors gave me to help the lungs absorb the fluids started to kick in overnight and I could leave hospital in the morning to continue my trip with the group. I still don't know if it was altitude sickness or a viral infection as the doctors first thought. And maybe it was the combination. But I realise I could have ended up like this woman.

In subsequent trips to Cusco I had a terrible headache after flying directly from Lima, but nothing serious (other than short of breath) after a 24hr bus ride from Lima. My wife, Peruvian and long-time Cusco resident up to 5 years before she returned, had more issues than I had. And we both used coca tea, she probably even more than I did.

Altitude is definitely something you shouldn't ignore. But there really isn't anything you can do other than acclimatise properly and go back to lower altitude if the symptoms worsen.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby Alan » Tue Jun 01, 2010 9:04 am

Rene wrote:
tupacperu wrote:Did not realize that altitude sickness could be fatal. Especially if this girl was an athlete

You just expressed the common misconception. An excellent physical condition does not prevent you from getting altitude sickness. It is rather random, one time you have a lot of issues, the other you don't feel a thing.



Random is right. I have traveled to the same altitude on different occasions, at times feeling nothing worse than a little heady, and other times being nearly incapacitated. Probably many of you have your own anecdotes. Anyway, altitude sickness can be serious business.

Terrible shame for the girl and her family. It is bad enough to have tragedy occur within a family, but worse still when it happens far from home.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby tupacperu » Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:28 pm

Like I say to my wife, I will stick to the coast . THere are enough photos of machu picchu and titicaca that I would not risk it. I had a stop over en the airport on xams iun Quito Ecuador, and found myself short of breathe just walking, after that experience , I move machu picchu to the bottom of my travel list.

I will stick to the archealogy in the north (on the coast)/
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby markr » Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:32 am

tupacperu wrote:Like I say to my wife, I will stick to the coast . THere are enough photos of machu picchu and titicaca that I would not risk it. I had a stop over en the airport on xams iun Quito Ecuador, and found myself short of breathe just walking, after that experience , I move machu picchu to the bottom of my travel list.

I will stick to the archealogy in the north (on the coast)/


You sound as bad as my wife. How can anyone living in Peru not want to visit Mach Picchu.
I've always wanted to visit the jungle regions, but my wife who has lived all over Peru assures me that it's not a nice place and full of nasty insects. She says it best viewed on the television :lol:
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby iskndarbey » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:33 am

tupacperu wrote:Like I say to my wife, I will stick to the coast . THere are enough photos of machu picchu and titicaca that I would not risk it. I had a stop over en the airport on xams iun Quito Ecuador, and found myself short of breathe just walking, after that experience , I move machu picchu to the bottom of my travel list.

I will stick to the archealogy in the north (on the coast)/


Seriously, the worst that's going to happen to you in Cusco or Lake Titicaca is a headache. Two million people visit every year and this doesn't happen to them. As long as you ascend gradually and don't exert yourself physically until you're well acclimated you don't have much to worry about.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby rgamarra » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:07 am

The first time I traveled to Arequipa and Cuzco I had no problem with altitude sickness...Not even on the bus trip from Arequipa to Cuzco which took us to Juliaca gave me any problems. However, after spending 3 days at MP and then returning to Cuzco I became ill with sorocha on the train ride back. I was miserable until we got back to Arequipa. Sorocha is a hit or miss ailment.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby PTTurboe » Fri Jun 04, 2010 11:49 am

We used these - and they work great!

http://www.sorojchipills.com/
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby yoenlima » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:52 pm

I don't know about the Sorojche Pills. I took them on our way to the Colca Canyon and they didn't work for me. They did work for my husband and my 14 y.o. son. Our guides had to stop on the side of the road and picked some wild grass which they rubbed in their hands and made me smell, and slowly the lightheadedness started to dissappear. For the next two days, I took tylenol for headeaches and on the third day, I was finally ok.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby PTTurboe » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:07 am

You have to start taking then 24-48 hours before you go to the altitudes...
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby mulcahen » Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:12 am

Would not bother with sorojchi pills. Most doctors I have worked with find them laughable. If I remember correctly the ingredients are something like, caffeine and paracetamol. About as healthy for you as Red Bull. At least that would give you wings so you could fly back down from altitude when you started to feel ill whereas these things will do nothing.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby PTTurboe » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:42 pm

Well, they work.

I get altitude sickness and did not have any in Cusco.

If you want to have those terrible headaches and lose a couple of days then go for it.

I will do what the French and Swiss do - take the pills...
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby Kelly » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:11 pm

Actually, Acetazolamide, a medication sold under the trade name Diamox, can be taken prophylactically. It needs to be started a couple days beforehand, and since it's a diuretic, taken with lots of liquids. It's also used to treat altitude sickness - it speeds up acclimatization.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby markr » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:01 pm

Kelly wrote:Actually, Acetazolamide, a medication sold under the trade name Diamox, can be taken prophylactically. It needs to be started a couple days beforehand, and since it's a diuretic, taken with lots of liquids. It's also used to treat altitude sickness - it speeds up acclimatization.

This was suggested to us by a doctor friend and it certainly worked for my wife who suffers terribly from altitude sickness.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby mulcahen » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:21 pm

apologies, I previously said sorojchi pills contained paracetamol. Actual ingredients are aspirin, caffeine and salophen. The reason they appear to work, is that they temporarily get rid of the headache ( aspirin) and make you feel less sleepy ( caffeine). Acetazolamide ( diamox) as recomended by the others actually helps you acclimatise which is different. Sorojchi pills do not have any effect on acclimatisation.

I cannot think of any other medicine that has huge advertisements all over the place, such as Cusco airport. Any effective and real medicine would surely not need this. I feel sorojchi pills are in reality just one big marketing scam
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby Alan » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:59 am

And yet another:

http://www.news.com.au/national/aussie- ... 5877514764

Very sad. I had no idea soroche could be so lethal.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby PTTurboe » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:43 am

Jeez Alan! Scary...

BTW - Sorojchi Pills contain:

Acetylsalicylic acid 325 mg (aspirin)
Salófeno 160 mg 160 mg Salófeno
Cafeína 15 mg Caffeine 15 mg

================================

Diamox ingredients:

Acetazolamide

http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-6753-Di ... iamox+Oral

To quote: ""Acetazolamide is a "water pill" (diuretic).""
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby mulcahen » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:24 am

confused about why you put the end quote PTTurboe?
quote: ""Acetazolamide is a "water pill" (diuretic).""

I am guessing you are still not convinced?

quote from
http://www.basecampmd.com/expguide/diamox.shtml

"Acetazolamide (Diamox®) is a medication that forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate, the base form of carbon dioxide; this re-acidifies the blood, balancing the effects of the hyperventilation that occurs at altitude in an attempt to get oxygen. This re-acidification acts as a respiratory stimulant, particularly at night, reducing or eliminating the periodic breathing pattern common at altitude. Its net effect is to accelerate acclimatization."

Yes the drug was actuallly invented to treat glaucoma and yes it has a diuretic effect but it has a long worldwide history of helping people acclimatise to altitude and the mass of evidence is irrefutable.

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/328/7443/797 is a scientific test result confirming it has a positive effect.

If you prefer to believe in Sorojchi Pills that is your right, I just hate to see people being ripped off. As someone said on this topic the best option is just to acclimatise gradually.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby mahou123 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:10 pm

Best thing to avoid altitude sickness, chew coca leaves. All highland indians have been doing this forever, and it works. Not ´mate de coca´, the real thing, like the locals do. You can get a bag of leaves at most bodegas outside of major towns for a couple of soles. They don´t actively display it for sale, but it is usually available on request. Great product really, it is a big international stupidity to have it illegal in most parts of the world.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby Kelly » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:27 pm

We bought chocolate covered coca leaves somewhere between Cusco and Manu - yum.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby mahou123 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:21 pm

Kelly wrote:We bought chocolate covered coca leaves somewhere between Cusco and Manu - yum.


I don´t know what it is, I just seen Mate de coca and some coca candies as an attempt to market coca products. But all these wouldn´t have any real effect. Coca leaves are not yummy. You have to chew quite a number of them, maybe hundred or more, to feel something. You don´t get ´high´ like on drugs, but they certainly have something in them. Obviously, people can produce cocaine from large amounts of coca leaves, and that´s why there is a ´controversy´ surrounding this plant, up to prospects of being arrested for posession in some places.

As an example, many people working in sugar cane fields of Lambayeque province, chew them when they work. They cut sugar cane with machete all day, and in warmer time of year this is not an easy job at all. They work outside in scorching sun, high temperatures and high humidity, in dusty desert. Most people would collapse after an hour or so doing that. Now these guys chew coca, don´t drink and don´t eat anything all day. Which obviously means that they are affected by a powerful substance. I wouldn´t call it ´drug´ in sense of ´narcotic´, as they don´t seem any addicted to it. This is something that doesn´t cause intoxication in common sense of the word. But of course it affects one´s body, and it would prevent altitude sickness in a similar fashion.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby anthonymaw » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:35 am

The issue of tourist altitude sickness is largely due to the preference of modern western tourists to fly-in, fly-out for a quick gawk and photos, and expect often expensive magic pills to fix their altitude sickness problems.

Most of these pills are expensive, and have side effects like being a strong diuretic.

The easiest solution is to take two or three days, preferably traveling overland, to gradually acclimatize to high altitude and let your body naturally adjust by producing more red blood cells.

...and the increased VO2 oxygen capacity makes you feel great when you return back to lower altitudes to boot!

I live in the coastal city of Vancouver Canada at sea level but have travelled and worked in some amazing high altitude locations in Tibet, Himalayas, Andes and European Alps without using those altitude drugs.
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby argidd » Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:29 pm

Travelling by land only makes your trip dreadful. Unpaved roads, narrow curves and poorly maintained bridges make you even sicker. I know several people who when back to their localities or travelling by bus due to there not being airport access/money for airfare feel sick; and so the smell lingers on... for hours, making more people sick.

Yes, the romantic thought of travelling through Peru on a bus, with the fantastic scenery sounds amazing, but for the reasons above (which lead to the hard on statistics we have of bus accidents in the mountains) are a big turn off.

Best thing to do is take it easy, drink coca tea, and not push yourself.
Regards,

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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby chi chi » Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:01 pm

Alan wrote:Terrible shame for the girl and her family. It is bad enough to have tragedy occur within a family, but worse still when it happens far from home.


Regulary , things like that happen to young healthy people.

A good friend and colleage of mine died too in suspicious circumstances. With my ex colleages, we still talk about the case.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1298369.stm
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby tupacperu » Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:16 pm

markr wrote:
tupacperu wrote:Like I say to my wife, I will stick to the coast . THere are enough photos of machu picchu and titicaca that I would not risk it. I had a stop over en the airport on xams iun Quito Ecuador, and found myself short of breathe just walking, after that experience , I move machu picchu to the bottom of my travel list.

I will stick to the archealogy in the north (on the coast)/


You sound as bad as my wife. How can anyone living in Peru not want to visit Mach Picchu.
I've always wanted to visit the jungle regions, but my wife who has lived all over Peru assures me that it's not a nice place and full of nasty insects. She says it best viewed on the television :lol:


I already had the experience in Quito Ecuador, would not like to repeat it.

I will stick with the antiquities of the NORTH..lol
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Re: Tourist killed by altitude sickness in Peru

Postby chi chi » Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:58 am

argidd wrote:Best thing to do is take it easy, drink coca tea, and not push yourself.


Coca tea is indeed helpfull.
But some people aren't allowed to drink it because of their job as they might fail a drug test.
When I worked for the airlines, the crew was told not to drink it.

And I profesional sports people shouldn't drink it either as it will show up on a drug test.

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