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Breathing at Altitude

Does going to higher altitude make it difficult for your lungs to clear moisture?

Question:

Does going to higher altitude make it difficult for your lungs to clear moisture? I’m not a smoker, but every morning I had to cough to clear my lungs.

Submitted by - Pat, Fort Worth, TX

Answer:

Short answer: No, healthy lungs typically have no problem clearing moisture up high. In fact, high air is usually dry, making loss of moisture from the lungs high. There could be several explanations for your problem—maybe you had a mild respiratory infection; or perhaps fluid collected in your lungs during periods of deep sleep when your breathing was shallow; or maybe you had a mild case of high-altitude pulmonary edema. If it happens again, I suggest you have a talk with your favorite doc about it.  —Buck

1 Comment

  1. Dr Keith

    I’d welcome some input regarding diamox, viagra (don’t laugh….it’s all about increased blood flow) on climbs. I typically will use diamox on climbs above 10,000 feet. Diamox is a mild diuretic, and so, may keep you awake at night. (If you use viagra, your tentmate may be the one losing shut eye!)

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