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Teresa Gergen wrote:Did you do a methacholine challenge test or just a spirometry test? A methacholine test will confirm that it's asthma and not something more serious that might require a different form of treatment.
Uhhh...no. Just a spirometry test. My doc has asthma so I was comfortable with her diagnosis. I am trying to get into a test/trial group with NJ right now.
The only times I have had symptoms (tight chest, coughing, wheezing, etc) were my last few climbs last year. All of them afterwards, not during.
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- Mark A Steiner
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Teresa's thorough explanation in Page 1 provides good guidance. I have family members with asthma and that affliction is a whole different deal from just being winded. She is right about medication: doctors may dispense inhalers to pacify, not necessarily treat asthma.
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Just going to a regular doc for what you think is asthma might not be enough. I learned this about 8 years ago after dealing with asthma-like symptoms for a few years and just using albuterol, prescribed by my local doc. Then, I did full-on PFT at National Jewish and was diagnosed with asthma and pretty severe small-airway trapping. While my lung function is still less than 80% of normal, the maintenance medications I use for trapping have definitely helped over the years.
Oh, and I don't carry pulse-ox.
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Normal range for 02 saturation = 90-100. For people with respiratory issues, normal range is 88-100%. I'm sure my range is lower than normal at altitude.
It's certainly not necessary, but unless you're a minimalist it may be something to consider.
Most likely a number of unknowns would be involved such as how the given hiker adapts even if non-asthmatic. Still, it would seem there is probably some method for estimating at least a range that the oxygen level on the 14,000‘ summit should be. Should it still be about 95%? Or more like 90%? Or perhaps even 80%? The point is how would either a non-asthmatic -- or an asthmatic -- hiker know that whatever his meter shows at 14,000‘ is good, bad, or indifferent without knowing how to factor in the altitude change?
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Rarefied wrote: The point is how would either a non-asthmatic -- or an asthmatic -- hiker know that whatever his meter shows at 14,000‘ is good, bad, or indifferent without knowing how to factor in the altitude change?
I found this table for oxygen saturation:
As well as a neat calculator:
The calculator is pretty cool because it gives you a feel of the impact of elevation as well as respiratory rate and tidal volume. For accuracy, one would want to understand realistic personal numbers and physiological increases at elevation, but it gives an idea of ranges. (SaO2 likely still in the 90%+ range).
Like others said, though, the pain/tightness/wheezing from asthma was always my primary indicator (with childhood asthma, anyway, and now only intense short efforts in dry weather).
I scaled off that first chart and it shows nominal SaO2 levels of ~93% at 10,000‘ and ~85% at 14,000‘ for a drop of about 8%. And since that’s roughly half of the 14.6% drop in atmospheric pressure between the two elevations -- and the chart is fairly linear -- it seems like “Change in O2% level = apprx. half change in atmospheric pressure” might be a crude rule-of-thumb.
It also supports a value I ran across for Everest. After my first post, I recalled reading somewhere that O2 levels way up there have been found to be in the 60% range. So I Googled that and did find references to that being the case. And, sure enough, the 8800 meter point on that chart lines up with about 63% on the SaO2 level. So that crosschecks well and the above “rule-of-thumb” still seems to be in the ballpark as the O2 percentage drop (from 10k’ to 29k’) is about 32% or around half of the 55% drop in atmospheric pressure between those same two elevations.
Again, thanks for the effort & info, madbuck.
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I do not have asthma, but had low oxygen levels this winter-spring, have had to wear O2 and had to measure my oxygen levels with an oximeter.
Not fun, cool or hip.
If you have asthma, I'd agree with other posters who suggest you'll know when your lungs are tight and you need to use an inhaler rather than focusing on periodically checking oxygen levels and responding to those.
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All conjecture, and ultimately unprovable, but fun to think about while choking down yet another camp dinner of teriyaki noodles and salmon.
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