Illnesses at High Altitudes

High altitudes can affect a number of existing illnesses, and seem to encourage a particularly hardy strain of ‘flu and common bacteria.

Any time you move to a new climate, or a long enough distance that you are exposed to a new germ pool, you’ll experience a greater number of minor illnesses during the first year than you will later. I don’t know if it is my own interpretation or not, but up in the Rockies at least, there seem to be a few particularly nasty strains of flu, stomach bugs, and colds. It takes tough people to live here though, so maybe it took a tough bug to stick around!

High altitude can positively or negatively affect a range of diseases, including circulatory and pulmonary disease, and diabetes. Usually, the major affect is when changes occur – It may be more difficult for someone with chronic illness to adapt to higher altitudes.

Carb control with diabetes needs to be carefully monitored when changes occur, and for about a month afterward if the change is permanent. High altitudes can affect your body’s use of carbohydrates, especially at first.

Adaptation to high altitude involves changes in your blood, and for some people who already have abnormalities, it can cause unusual problems. My mother, for some reason, tends to develop blood clots extremely easily at higher altitudes – more so than at lower altitudes.

Because of the general climate differences which tend to be prevalent at high altitude, you have to be a bit more careful when you have a cold, cough, or other lung infection, to insure that you wear proper protective clothing on cold days.

We have raised seven kids so far up here, and all of them are, for the most part, healthier than average. They weather common illnesses easily, and even our son who is on chemo for leukemia is astonishingly healthy. He has had just two infections, and no serious side effects from the chemo, through the two and a half years of his treatment that have been completed so far. Our first year up here was pretty rough, though we did not have to take anyone to the doctor for anything other than one minor ear infection. The kids just had a lot of petty illnesses that seemed to hit them very hard. Since then, we get just one potentially serious round of ‘flu per year, and while they tend to last about a week, the kids rarely even get colds the rest of the time.