High Altitude Hiking – How Oxygen Therapy Will Help Reach the Summit

The higher you travel above sea level, the thinner the air gets, and this can become a big problem for some people. If you want to do some high altitude hiking with your friends, there are some precautions you will need to take, especially if you have a lung or heart condition.

Those with COPD, asthma, congestive heart failure and other heart problems would definitely benefit from the use of portable oxygen therapy, if you are going up into high altitudes. Also, if you are not used to being in higher altitudes, and you travel higher too quickly, you can suffer from the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Mild altitude sickness is very common in people who have a healthy heart and lungs. Even experts cannot always predict who will get it and who won't, but if you have a condition that prevents you from getting enough oxygen into your bloodstream, even at sea level, you will definitely have a hard time.

Whether you are healthy or not, supplemental portable oxygen will help you if you need to climb quickly to higher altitudes. You might suffer as little as a headache on your drive up to a resort in the mountains, or you might have trouble sleeping. You may even feel nauseous and vomit. These mild symptoms may go away after a few hours after you've reached your high altitude destination.

When your body isn't getting the oxygen it needs, it notices pretty quickly. If you went from sea level to 8,000 feet above sea level very quickly, it would be the same effect as a fish that has jumped out of its fish tank. You become very ill very quickly and it can become dangerous, or you might just feel as if you have a bad hangover.

It becomes dangerous when it effects your lungs and your brain. When your lips or fingernails turn gray, and you start wheezing, this is when it can be deadly. To prevent this and the milder symptoms of high altitude sickness, taking a portable oxygen concentrator with you is the best thing you can do.

You won't need to deal with bringing tanks, because the concentrator purifies its own oxygen. Getting purified oxygen into your lungs and into your blood stream will ensure that you are getting enough oxygen to all parts of your body, which will prevent altitude sickness altogether.

Just make sure your portable oxygen concentrator can go as high as you need it to. All units have a maximum operational altitude, which means it will continue to provide the same high concentration of oxygen until it reaches a certain altitude, outside of an airplane.

Some portable oxygen machines can go as high as a little over 13,000 feet, while others can only go up to 10,000 feet above sea level. All portable oxygen concentrators are easy to carry, but if you are doing hiking, you will need a lightweight one that is easy to carry on your back, or at your side.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

2 thoughts on “High Altitude Hiking – How Oxygen Therapy Will Help Reach the Summit”

  • Don Knife

    If I want a machine for high altitude hiking, do I still have to have a prescription from a doctor ?

    • Sanket Jain

      Oxygen concentrators cannot be sold over-the-counter. The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) requires prescriptions for medical grade oxygen. Our Oxygen Specialist would be happy to help you out with your requirements. Please give us a call at 877-644-4581.


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