/ Drinking water to help acclimitisation

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Newbuild100 - on 23 Oct 2012
A few times over the past few years, I have been to a few places over 4000 metres and suffered with the thin air (vomitting/sickening headaches etc).

As science has moved on somewhat AND ive become more aware of ways of dealing with altitude a bit better, ive just been to nearly 6000 meters and didnt really suffer at all.
I took on board plenty of water this time, was a bit more conservative with my pace perhaps, and also took Diamox.
Obviously, its probably impossible to say for sure, but I would like to know which of the above helped me acheive my aim. (Call it inquisition if you like)

Whilst its recognised that drinking plenty of water helps with the acclimitisation "programe", can anyone tell me why ?
(Would the same effect be gained by drinking say fizzy pop, or tea !!??)
ie, does it have to be water ???

Secondly, does the Diamox/water combo help to increase ox sat levels OR just help to deal with the lower ox sat levels that would be expected at height !!

(At 5000m a few years ago, without taking Diamox or any increase of water, my ox sat levels were in the low 70's.
In the last week or so, WITH a Diamox intake and extra water; at 5000m, my ox sat levels were in the low 90's

(PS . .all the trips above have been done with reputable companies with a decent acclimitisation programme)

Whilst I guess we all realise its very far from being an exact science, can anyone comment on the above please. ??

Joe G - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Newbuild100:
South Americans swear by coca tea, and diamox makes beer feel funny on your tongue.
Not sure if that helps... I've certainly never been up a hill with a reputable company!
NottsRich on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Newbuild100: At 5,000m the most important thing I found was staying hydrated. And that takes some doing because I found I was peeing about every hour! That was trekking, not climbing. I really noticed it when I drank less, especially when sleeping/trying to sleep.
Newbuild100 - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to NottsRich: MM, a bit wierd re the peeing thing.
I didnt pee more than normal at altitude, even though I was drinking more.
BUT, when I tried diamox at sea level before I went on the recent trip, I couldnt stop going to the damn toilet.

Another thing I noticed with the tingliness in my fingers/toes from the Diamox is that the higher I got, the worse it got. (I guess this could be really bad news in really cold conditions given that it may not be possible to tell wether the feeling is "just" from the pills or coldfeet/potential frostbite)
PondLife - on 23 Oct 2012
In reply to Newbuild100: Altitude thickens the blood so drinking plenty of water helps to counter the effect. Tea is a diuretic so drinking too much of it will counter the benefits of water. Diamox is also a diuretic but it's supposed to help balance the blood PH level which gets screwed by altitude (I think). So you need to drink even more water if you are using Diamox. I used it at 5000m plus and felt fine. I have gone without at under 4000m and felt pretty crappy. There is an element of randomness in all of this as well.
radson - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Newbuild100:

Rapid ascent to high altitude is accompanied by a prompt decrease in blood volume because fluid is excreted in the urine during normal acclimitization. Acutely, fluid may move out of the blood vessels into the tissues and cells, resulting in tissue swelling (edema) The severity of fluid retention is related to the the risk of altitude illness. During acclimitization, the decrease in blood plasma volume is 5-10 percent of the sea level blood volume, which is equivalent to removing a pint of blood plasma. This loss of fluid causes an increase in the concentration of red blood cells, although the actual number of circulating red cells does not increase for many days. Inadequate fluid intake at altitude may further decrease blood volume and result in a decreased maximal exercise capacity.

Medicine for Mountaineering & Other Wilderness Activities - 6th Edition.
radson - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Newbuild100:

And to answer some of your questions.

Which of the above helped your aim? - Well I would say they all helped but I think you underestimate the value of "conservative with your pace' A cautious acclimitisation schedule, slow ascent with adequate hydration will win almost every time.

I think my above quote answers your why question on why hydration helps. I dont believe that Tea or Coffee is a diuretic for hydration purposes. Like the ethos that any calorie is a good calorie at altitude, I would suscribe to the same philosophy for non-alcoholic fluids.

Diamox is the only proven artificial acclimitzor so yes would help in a roundabout way would help to reach your natural stabilised ox sat level at that altitude more rapidly. Note my wording on that one. It does not per se increase your ox sat levels and on that note, I would be cautious in taking too much credence in your pulse ox levels. Be more concerned with symptoms and a general overall ' how do you feel' than fixate too heavily on a jiggly number.

So yes with or without diamox at 5,000 m your sat ox levels will drop then rise to a stabilised level. (The diamox will just hasten the process) High 80's to low 90's for 5,000 m sounds about right.
Newbuild100 - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to radson: Thanks very much for everyones help, I really appreciate it all.

Im currently looking to go higher next year, before my body says enough is enough. Dunno where yet though.

Once again, thank you all.

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