Altitude and Lung Ailments
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#1: Altitude and Lung Ailments Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 4:54 pm
I was wondering why higher altitudes were seen as being better for TB patients, and people with delicate health and respitary problems as well? I can see the advantages of lower pollution and low humidity, but wouldn't that be offset by the lower oxygen levels?

I know that at 5000 ft I find I get winded more quickly when exercising, and it's high enough that things like canned whipped cream don't work very well.

#2:  Author: RuthYLocation: Anyone's guess PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:04 pm
I've never thought about that before, but you definately have got a point there. I wonder how it was good for them. Maybe EBD just thought that it sounded like a good idea!

#3:  Author: jenniferLocation: Taiwan PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:16 pm
As an addendum

I was at high altitude recently, and people with breathing difficulties, heart problems, children under sixteen, anyone ill (colds and so on) and pregnant women were prohibited from going up. We were also told not to drink the night before (alcohol, that is), and strictly forbidden to scuba dive the 24 hours before (you can get the bends and die).

Of the dozen people in my group, two had to go down due to altitude sickness (shortness of breath, headache, nausea and accelerated heartbeat), and one needed oxygen!

It was an odd feeling though. I wasn't strongly affected, but felt slightly drunk - the state when you know you're not functioning at full capacity, and are being very deliberate to compensate. Plus, it turns out that high altitude works like a very strong diuretic.

For all that, it was pretty cool and looked like another planet. And how else are you going to see snow in Hawaii!

#4:  Author: KateLocation: Ireland PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:00 pm
Regular breathing difficulties are one matter, but there is quite a bit of (mainly anecdotal) evidence that altitude does help TB.

From here:
Altitude has an apparent influence on the frequency of phthisis (TB), the rarity of the disease at high altitudes in Switzerland having been demonstrated, and a like protective influence is enjoyed by certain elevated districts in Mexico, notwithstanding the insanitary conditions of the towns thereon. The protection afforded by the altitude is alleged to be due to the dryness of the atmosphere, its freedom from impurities and the increased solar radiation.

(And also - interestingly enough...
For those who are able to do so advantage may be taken of the combined sanatorium and sun treatment. In certain high altitudes in Switzerland, which are favored by a large amount of sunshine and a small percentage of moisture, much benefit has been derived from the exposure of the unclothed body to the suns rays. The power of the sun in high altitudes is so great that the treatment can be continued even when the snow is on the ground. Not only is the sun-treatment applicable to pulmonary tuberculosis, but also to the tuberculosis of joints, even in advanced cases. The treatment has to a great extent replaced surgical procedure in tuberculosis of joints, but it requires to be persevered in over a considerable period of time.

#5:  Author: KathrynWLocation: London PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 7:21 pm
I always thought it was more to do with the quality of the air rather than anything else and that it was playing one thing off against the other (if that makes sense). My family's house in the south of france is part of a building that was, at one time, used as a TB sanatorium (a fact which I find ridiculously exciting!) and although it isn't particularly high up, it's quite isolated and the air is very clean and dry.

Would the Platz have low humidity then? The descriptions of hot weather in the books always make it seem quite oppressive and humid I think. In France, it's awlays very bearable, even when it gets really, really hot in the height of summer, because it is so dry.


#6:  Author: AlexLocation: Cambs, UK PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 10:04 pm
I have been in France in the Pyrenees in July (regularly) and it is often very humid, but generally there is a thunderstorm every few days which freshens the air.

I didn't think you got altitude sickness at the height of the Alps, they are fairly low as mountains go, I believe. (Feel free to correct me, I'm quite prepared to be wrong on this one.)

#7:  Author: PatLocation: Doncaster PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2006 10:19 pm
We were told to take things easy for the first few minutes when we went up the Jungruajoch because of the height. It made me feel sort of liht headed - a funny feeling. We were also told to watch the Japanese! They only have an hour up thee, which isn't nearly enough time, and try to do the whole thing at a run. They often pass out, and we did siee someone slumped at the side of the corridor. However, that is much higher than the Platz was supposed to be, and I wouldn't have thought there would be any problems there.

#8:  Author: ChangnoiLocation: in transit, midwest USA PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 1:15 am
I'm at ~5000 ft here in Albuquerque, and the air (once you get out of the city) is wonderful! Fresh and crisp and pine-y! BUT for people coming from sea-level, it is a change that takes about two weeks to get used to.

The thing that I always think about is the distance between the school and the San at the Sonnalpe (3000 ft). The girls often do this as a hike and think nothing of it. There's hike in the Sandias (the mountains on the outskirts of the city) that takes you to the crest that is about 3000 feet. It's a pretty stiff pull up. When I have done it, it's generally something that I devote a day to--going up and down it. The CS girls seem to just go up it, have Mittagessen, and then spend the rest of the day prancing around. And then in Reunion, Con mentions doing some sort of 5000 foot elevation, not as a hike even, just as sort of a casual stroll on the way to get somewhere else, which is quite an elevation change! I suppose the CS people are just in massively better shape....

Didn't mean to hijack this thread; it's just something I have been thinking about.


#9:  Author: KBLocation: Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 2:34 am
Actually, the walk from the school to the San is considered quite stiff. It takes four hours and several of the less strong girls are often 'done' when they finish it. If you remember, the younger girls (e.g. Irma von Rothenfels) were often carried.

#10:  Author: Rosy-JessLocation: Gloucestershire-London-Aberystwyth PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 9:26 am
KathrynW wrote:
I always thought it was more to do with the quality of the air rather than anything else and that it was playing one thing off against the other (if that makes sense).

I always thought it was because the air was purer - there's a quote lurking around about the Robin being so much better after lots of milk and mountain air - but I've not got time to look it up.

I mean, I have fairly disobedient lungs, and I have to admit struggling if I get up too high. This included airplanes sadly!

#11:  Author: TanLocation: London via Newcastle Australia PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 10:14 am
I seem to remember from biology in high school that the reason that high altitude helped with TB patients is because the lower levels of oxygen helped to slow down the disease. Unfortunately 16 years later i can't remember the exact reasons why ....

#12:  Author: Mrs RedbootsLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 4:34 pm
I think they were so desperate for something - anything - to help TB, that they tried all they could. Even in this country there were "Fresh-air" schools for children with TB, where absolutely everything happened in the open air, and there was only a roof over you, not walls. There was one at Clapham Common, I believe, not quite sure where now.

And didn't they think the very dry air of Arizona was good for TB patients, too, even though it wasn't at altitude.

We spend a week or so in the Alps each year, usually at around the 1,000 metre mark, and although I do notice it the first few days (especially as we go for an ice-skating competition), I always feel so incredibly well up there. We leave a fortnight on Wednesday - I can't wait!

#13:  Author: MiaLocation: London PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 4:39 pm
Mrs Redboots wrote:
And didn't they think the very dry air of Arizona was good for TB patients, too, even though it wasn't at altitude.

Oh yes, I'm reading a random book at the moment where the father was sent to New Mexico for TB

#14:  Author: KarryLocation: Stoke on Trent PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 1:39 pm
My boss has just popped in to work - he has been off work for 7 weeks with pleurosy, and has a sick note for another month, and the doctor told him this morning that the best thing for him would be a month in Switzerland! Shame you can't get it on the NHS!

#15:  Author: SusanLocation: Carlisle PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 4:47 pm
There was a sanatorium at Blencathra which is just the other side of Keswick from here. My mum's friend was there with TB in the 1930s. I don't know how high it is but it was it was there as it was isolated from any cities and their smog. Don't forget with all the smoky fuels they had back then city air would be very nasty to breath so the pure mountain or even country air would be a lot better than what they were used too.

#16:  Author: MarianneLocation: Lancaster PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:38 pm
Gosh, thats exciting...I walked up Blencathra in Michaelmas term, next time i have a story to tell, which is just as well, i'll be a third year so people will expect me to say clever things!

As for 3000ft being a bit a of a stretch...i'll concur that a climb of that distance isn't that easy; Helvellyn is about that (i think) and I did that last weekend! Its pretty good going for a child to do it i think although i guess if they were used to it that makes a big difference.

(i'll go away now)

#17:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 4:11 pm
Don't forget, in those days, people were far more accustomed to walking everywhere. Cars were luxuries for the rich only, so the ordinary people took buses where they existed, and walked for miles if need be.

#18:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 8:52 am
Susan wrote:
There was a sanatorium at Blencathra which is just the other side of Keswick from here.

It's now been converted into holiday homes, I think! It became the Lake District National Park admin HQ or something, then got sold on.

Wish I was in the Lake District today and not in the office ....

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