Recovery-does altitude make a difference?

Posted by mark58 @mark58, Sep 27 11:36am

I am 2 weeks post discharge from a 6 day Covid stay with pneumonia and remdisivere(sp) treatment.

I live at 5300 feet elevation and recently went to sea level. When at elevation I find, especially at night, that my blood oxygen levels can drop to or below 90. I noticed at sea level that my oxygen level was almost always 2-3 points higher.

After much research and no answers found I am interested to know if being at sea level will shorten my recovery time?

@mark58, that's a very interesting question. I doubt research about recovery from COVID at varying altitudes has been conducted yet. You may have to look for studies done on pneumonia and altitude. Here are a couple of things I found:

– Lung disease at high altitude https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10634992/
– Respiratory Function of University Students Living at High Altitude https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175264/

Cherry picking some info:
"At high altitude where the barometric pressure (Pb) and thus the supply of oxygen is lower, the job of getting oxygen to the blood, even in the healthy lung is more difficult…"
"University students living at high altitude had a slower HR and higher oxygen saturation levels as well as higher lung and inspiratory capacity levels. Thus, physiological improvement in oxygen saturation levels and pulmonary function were seen in the individuals living at high altitude."

In the first quote, I'm not sure how they define "high altitude." It may be referring to flying.

I wonder if one can extrapolate faster recovery time or perhaps working harder at 5300 feet, despite lower oxygen saturation, your lungs are healing and stronger. This may be questions to ask your doctor.

On a practical level, you live at 5,300 feet elevation and are recovering at home. Being home and comfortable in your surroundings can also contribute to recovery. Would you move to sea level for the recovery period? Might this add undue stress?

REPLY
@colleenyoung

@mark58, that's a very interesting question. I doubt research about recovery from COVID at varying altitudes has been conducted yet. You may have to look for studies done on pneumonia and altitude. Here are a couple of things I found:

– Lung disease at high altitude https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10634992/
– Respiratory Function of University Students Living at High Altitude https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175264/

Cherry picking some info:
"At high altitude where the barometric pressure (Pb) and thus the supply of oxygen is lower, the job of getting oxygen to the blood, even in the healthy lung is more difficult…"
"University students living at high altitude had a slower HR and higher oxygen saturation levels as well as higher lung and inspiratory capacity levels. Thus, physiological improvement in oxygen saturation levels and pulmonary function were seen in the individuals living at high altitude."

In the first quote, I'm not sure how they define "high altitude." It may be referring to flying.

I wonder if one can extrapolate faster recovery time or perhaps working harder at 5300 feet, despite lower oxygen saturation, your lungs are healing and stronger. This may be questions to ask your doctor.

On a practical level, you live at 5,300 feet elevation and are recovering at home. Being home and comfortable in your surroundings can also contribute to recovery. Would you move to sea level for the recovery period? Might this add undue stress?

Jump to this post

Ok. So I am not alone in finding a lack of information.

The information you provided is helpful however. I seem to be challenged in finding answers as I have spoken with 3 local doctors and none of them had much thought on that subject.

My goal is to strike the right balance between not doing too much and continued progress. And based on parts of your reply I think I am not horribly wrong. Anecdotally, I don’t hear a chorus of doctors with Covid patients in Tahoe, Denver and other locations higher than 5300 feet sending their patients lower.

I completely agree with you on being comfortable which the big reason I have not made any geographic move.

I will keep looking.

Might ask another question? After reading a couple of studies on the efficacy between masks and associated costs it appears that n95 masks are better but expensive and harder to find. For those willing to wear a mask why is there not a ground swell of advocacy from the broader medical community to the cdc to make them more available and affordable?

Thanks for your help.

Regards,
Mark

REPLY
@mark58

Ok. So I am not alone in finding a lack of information.

The information you provided is helpful however. I seem to be challenged in finding answers as I have spoken with 3 local doctors and none of them had much thought on that subject.

My goal is to strike the right balance between not doing too much and continued progress. And based on parts of your reply I think I am not horribly wrong. Anecdotally, I don’t hear a chorus of doctors with Covid patients in Tahoe, Denver and other locations higher than 5300 feet sending their patients lower.

I completely agree with you on being comfortable which the big reason I have not made any geographic move.

I will keep looking.

Might ask another question? After reading a couple of studies on the efficacy between masks and associated costs it appears that n95 masks are better but expensive and harder to find. For those willing to wear a mask why is there not a ground swell of advocacy from the broader medical community to the cdc to make them more available and affordable?

Thanks for your help.

Regards,
Mark

Jump to this post

Hello Mark, have you contacted any of the post-Covid programs in the area?They usually include a pulmonologist who may have some insight for you. There is a Center at National Jewish Health in Denver, where they have a world-class pulmonology department.

As for masks, part of the cost of N-95 masks is that they are sized, and you need to be fitted for it to be effective.

Instead I buy certified KN-95 masks, when I am at my desk tomorrow I will post a link of those which have passed inspection. They are about 1/3 to 1/2 as expensive, and nearly as effective. A few weeks ago I was wearing them 9 hours a day caring for sick kids, and didn't catch my young grandsons' contagious respiratory virus or strep throat. I wear them everywhere.
Sue

REPLY
@sueinmn

Hello Mark, have you contacted any of the post-Covid programs in the area?They usually include a pulmonologist who may have some insight for you. There is a Center at National Jewish Health in Denver, where they have a world-class pulmonology department.

As for masks, part of the cost of N-95 masks is that they are sized, and you need to be fitted for it to be effective.

Instead I buy certified KN-95 masks, when I am at my desk tomorrow I will post a link of those which have passed inspection. They are about 1/3 to 1/2 as expensive, and nearly as effective. A few weeks ago I was wearing them 9 hours a day caring for sick kids, and didn't catch my young grandsons' contagious respiratory virus or strep throat. I wear them everywhere.
Sue

Jump to this post

Thanks Sue and I will check with my primary care physician for a good pulmonologist.

Thanks in advance for the information on the masks!

REPLY
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