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14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby dcbates80911 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:14 am

First...congratulations on your first 14er summit. Judging by your picture, it will not be your last.

Second...thanks to MountainMedic for the detailed body physiology description. I love science, specifically around how the body works and that was a pretty cool to read.

Finally, I pee often on my hikes, too. My goal is to start well hydrated so I generally drink 32oz of water the hour before I start hiking. On the hike, I take small drinks at stops and drink a larger amount when I summit. I learned this works well for me (it may not for you). When I pee, it is pretty clear. The only problem is in mixed company above tree line and few hiding places (as you noted). However, I am willing to say most hikers and certainly my partners are willing to give you some privacy (and in some cases help shield) from other hikers. Peeing is a normal process and we all do it.
As you do more hikes, observe your body and its reaction to altitude, hydration, and food. Especially food you eat the night or two before. Two nights before my dinner is higher in carbs and the night before higher in protein. I have learned through observation, I do much better with fresh fruit (helps hydrate) and nuts on hikes. Those old protein bars just didn’t work (especially in the winter where they can lead to broken teeth). Longer hikes, I will add other foods like bagel sandwiches, whole grain crackers, etc.

As for the ibuprofen or aspirin suggestion, I tried it because someone said it helped. Never did help me so I abandoned that technique. Only time I take ibuprofen is when something is sore or injured. Good luck on your future outings and welcome to a unique group.
There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby madbuck » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:35 am

summerspirit wrote: I also forgot my ibuprofen (dumb!) as I'm prone to getting headaches regardless of what I'm doing.


Ideally for healthy people (migraines or secondary headaches notwithstanding), regular tension headaches can be avoided: sleep, stress reduction, posture/muscle tone, avoiding overuse of painkillers.

peter303 wrote:[-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X [-X

djkest wrote:You might also try some ibuprofen when you are nearing the summit on the way up. It can help alleviate symptoms of AMS (although it does not prevent AMS in any way).


Very dangerous medical advice. Dehydration and iproprofen can terminate your kidneys.
http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/14/health/la-he-0214-painkillers-backfire-20110214
http://voices.yahoo.com/an-important-warning-pain-relievers-kidney-5793882.html


It's good to know and important to avoid overuse of ibuprofen, and possibly a regular dose during a longer endurance event (15+ hours), and I personally avoid taking it, but I don't know of sufficient evidence that a small dose during a shorter bout of hiking is known to be damaging, keeping in mind that the alternative of mild altitude sickness symptoms and thus moving more slowly also has its own risks.

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby DArcyS » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:09 am

Out of curiosity, are you on a low salt diet where you never touch a salt shaker at the table, and if you cook, do you avoid adding salt, even to cook noodles?

There is a condition called hyponatremia, which is a low concentration of sodium in the blood. You don't have a full blown case, but I wouldn't be surprised if you have an element of hyponatremia causing your headache.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponatremia

I've also found V8 to be good at helping with altitude sickness. Between replenishing salts with Gatorade and V8 after a hike, I'd go with the fruits and vegetables. Before I started hiking frequently so that I am now fully acclimated to Colorado's high elevation, I'd take some V8 as my "sports drink" on my tougher fall or winter hikes where I was more prone to getting a headache. It seemed to work, but now I can do a hike drinking very little without getting a hint of a headache and I don't take it along anymore.

My advice would be to drink much less on your next hike to see if that helps. If your urine is clear, your body is telling you it's already hydrated.

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby DArcyS » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:16 am

laxcountrypiper wrote:I have at least some of the symptoms of altitude sickness nearly every time I go above 13K feet. I do believe the frequent urination thing is a symptom, but I typically only experience that symptom if I have not climbed in the last 6 months. I'll easily get a headache if the pace is fast and I did not climb the weekend before.


Also avoid doing fast pace, stop, fast pace, stop, fast pace, stop . . . When you do this, you're going anaerobic. It's better to learn to hike at a steady pace that you can maintain.

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby edhaman » Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:59 am

This interesting discussion has raised three questions for me:

1. Can MountainMedic explain the pathophysiology of HAF?

2. If mountain goats have a "salt deficient" diet, what is the problem with peeing on foliage to give them extra salt? (Does extra salt, or something else in urine harm them?)

3. Is the rest step a good idea for someone with knee problems, such as where there is a bone-on-bone situation? (People with such knee problems are advised to build up their muscles so as to take the strain off of the skeleton).

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby summerspirit » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:12 am

Wow thank you for all the great advice and suggestions everybody! I feel like I'm learning so much. I can't wait to get out there and try some of these techniques :)

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby MountainMedic » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:26 pm

speth wrote:
iholdthepain wrote:
Just turn your back on the people on the trail. They might even think you're just enjoying the view.

Nobody checks out the view from a 2ft high crouching position, pants around the ankles... it gets a little wide open o some of these hikes... especially above 11,500ft.


I wholeheartedly disagree. I've had some of the best views like this. 8-[


One of the most exhilarating moments of my life was going #2 off the Knife Edge on Capitol (I was OK with doing it because the exposure meant it wasn't going to hang around up there and because it was about to POUR - biggest storm I've ever seen in CO). Truly something all should do.

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby MountainMedic » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:30 pm

edhaman wrote:This interesting discussion has raised three questions for me:

1. Can MountainMedic explain the pathophysiology of HAF?

2. If mountain goats have a "salt deficient" diet, what is the problem with peeing on foliage to give them extra salt? (Does extra salt, or something else in urine harm them?)

3. Is the rest step a good idea for someone with knee problems, such as where there is a bone-on-bone situation? (People with such knee problems are advised to build up their muscles so as to take the strain off of the skeleton).


1. My guess would be that it has to do with the pressure difference. There's a certain pressure in your digestive tract, and when it increases relative to your surrounding environment, it's got to go somewhere. There's probably something more scientific, e.g. sympathetic/enteric nervous system adjustments = voiding bowels, but I honestly have no idea.

2. No idea. I like salt a lot. Runs in my family - my grandfather salts his ice cream.

3. I got really into the rest step after injuring my ankle. I found that it decreased stress on that joint and put more on my knee. No idea what a doc would recommend, though. Orthopedics are not my strong suit (we don't really do much in EMS).

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby jomagam » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:52 pm

Any chance that you are cold on the mountain? Peeing is a normal reaction to that.

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby jdorje » Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:35 pm

Some very good technical commentary on this thread, even though it's taken us somewhat off topic.

edhaman wrote:2. If mountain goats have a "salt deficient" diet, what is the problem with peeing on foliage to give them extra salt? (Does extra salt, or something else in urine harm them?)


I suspect the problem is that it attracts them to the trail in the first place. Goats (taken as a group) are much more dangerous than mountain lions and at least as dangerous as black bears, I'd guess.

edhaman wrote:3. Is the rest step a good idea for someone with knee problems, such as where there is a bone-on-bone situation? (People with such knee problems are advised to build up their muscles so as to take the strain off of the skeleton).


The goal is to maintain a consistent pace on steep slopes. The rest step gives you roughly a one-second break between each step while in a position taking weight off your muscles, but at the cost of losing your momentum (which is probably not really a concern on uphill sections). Keeping a consistent pace is good for anyone, but you'll see the effects not only in a faster overall pace but also in less muscle fatigue when it comes to downhill. The fact that your weight is held on the skeleton isn't a problem, since there is no impact. If you are hiking without an ACL you do need to be careful not to hyperextend the back leg when you rest on it in this way.

Knee problems of all sorts will generally show themselves on the downhill. This is where bone-on-bone becomes particularly problematic, since with each step there is a small impact jarring the bones together. Even people with healthy knees will often feel pain in the middle or front of the knee, due either to this jarring or to the relaxing of the quad muscle allowing the kneecap to slip out of place. Either form of pain can lead to swelling, which reduces mechanical efficiency of the knee. Improving overall quad/hamstring strength as well as making a conscious effort to use your muscles to cushion each step on the downhill can each help with this. Using an efficient pacing on the uphill can also play an important role by conserving your strength. Depending on the cause of pain, stopping to stretch (both quad and hamstring) can sometimes provide immediate improvement in pain levels, as the muscles pull the bones back into the correct position.
-Jason Dorje Short

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Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby TallGrass » Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:12 pm

iholdthepain wrote:...since it's being discussed, what IS the proper etiquette for making pitstops on hikes/climbs?

#1: Don't deuce the benchmark.

Get at least 50' off trail due to smell, that mountain goats and other animals are attracted to the sodium/potassium waste (see my TR #6), and more.

Stay at least 100' from any potential water source.

Pick a spot an animal can't reach, and a hiker is unlikely to step.

Learn about catholing (hole for scat) and LNT.

Planning: Make a stop before going above treeline while you still have cover.

"Baseline" at the trailhead's outhouse before starting. (Flashback to family roadtrip parental directives?)

A turned back while holding a tarp, safety blanket, jacket, or such may be needed for "privacy." Trekking pole(s) might help hold it in a dihedral.

"Spare" water bottle (and a small funnel for ladies) with the label torn off or otherwise "marked." Bottles also allow it to be emptied back at the trailhead's outhouse, rinsed, and recycled.

More from Wikipedia.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

Re: 14er newbie - frequent urination while hiking, AMS??

Postby MonGoose » Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:43 pm

SummerSpirit,
Congratulations on completing your first 14er and good job on drinking plenty of water. It is better to err on the side of drinking too much water than not drinking enough. I have experienced similar situations on very hot days in the mountains and I have found in my own experience that electrolytes help tremendously. When you sweat your body loses salt that is not replenished by drinking straight water. The following sources are items that I use on the trail to replenish electrolytes:

1) Clif Shot Bloks - These guys are awesome and I've taken them on my last 30 climbs! They are available at your local grocery store or REI and they have helped me a lot. They also taste really good (I recommend the strawberry flavor). I usually ingest two of these packs on the trip over an 6-8 hour day. Some of the flavors include caffeine which I find raises my heart rate but other people like the energy boost the caffeine gives them.
http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_shot_bloks/

2) GU Electolyte Mix - This is essentially a Gatorade mix (minus the sugar and high fructose corn syrup) which contains electrolytes and is available at REI. Mix with your water and you have instant electrolytes.
Powder Form: http://www.rei.com/product/794274/gu-electrolyte-brew-drink-mix-35-servings
Tablet Form (simplest): http://www.rei.com/product/815789/gu-brew-electrolyte-tablets-12-servings

3) Coconut Water - A natural juice that is very high in electrolytes as well as potassium. This is the quickest way I've found to re-hydrate. You can carry them with you on the hike or leave a cold one in the car waiting for you. While I love these guys, a lot of people don't like the taste of coconut water. A few of the flavors come mixed with peach or pineapple juice which improves the flavor. You're either going to like them or you're not but if you do, they'll help you hydrate in a hurry. Available at your local grocery store.
http://vitacoco.com/


I think if you incorporated any of the above methods into your routine you'll feel a lot better. It's also a good idea to eat something every 1 - 1.5 hours of your hike. Your body is burning a lot of energy so make sure you are providing fuel. As you hike more peaks you'll learn to recognize the signs your body is telling you concerning what it needs and you'll discover a routine that works for you. Good Luck!

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