Asthma and Altitude Update, Take II

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Dear New Readers Filling My Inbox and the Comments with Altitude Questions,

This one’s for you.

Love,
Your Formerly Floridian and now Coloradan Asthma Mom

You can mark me down as *pleasantly surprised* over my kid’s current good health – and by good, I mean no quick-relief inhaler use yet since moving – especially considering the combination of a sea-level to mile-high altitude shift, the usual challenges of winter, and the adjustment of moving into a new house and a drier, colder climate.

And also.

My house here is mostly carpeted, and AG hasn’t lived with carpeting since age 5.

However. Her lungs are working like gangbusters lately.

Seriously.

To recognize how remarkable this is, you’d have to A) be familiar with the severity of my daughter’s asthma during her early childhood, and B) have seen this non-asthmatic Asthma Mom from low and swampy Florida practically hyperventilating while moving furniture upstairs in this altitude.

At one point, about 3 hours into offloading the moving van, I spent a full minute considering whether a few puffs of AG’s trusty inhaler would help me catch my breath. Taking a break and deliberately slowing and deepening my breathing helped instead, at that moment and a few times since.

My moments of breathlessness and AG’s total lack of them so far make me wonder if my daughter just doesn’t notice the effects of higher altitude because lifelong asthma has accustomed her to periodic bouts of respiratory struggle.

Consider this:

The first time we took our daughters hiking in the foothills just beyond our neighborhood, we forgot to pack AG’s bronchodilator. Because we are idiots, of course.

We are also lucky because we didn’t even realize our mistake until after hiking all the way up to the cold, snowy peak and back down again, without even a hint of an asthma flare.

Maybe my kid’s lungs compensate for the altitude and dry air shift because they’re used to working overtime, anyway, although that doesn’t seem medically possible. Maybe the near-absence of dust mite antigens in the metro area helps my daughter more than I expected, as some of this research suggests.

Maybe, though, our luck (and hers) continues to hold. Either way, I’m grateful.

And to those of you contemplating a move to the Denver area with asthma kids of your own? So far, (fingers crossed) I give the place two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

12 responses to “Asthma and Altitude Update, Take II”

  1. Danielle says:

    I experience much the same thing with my back-and-forth moving. I’m practically counting down the weeks until I get to go back home to high altitude!

    I am really glad to hear the results have been good so far! Fingers crossed.

    Danielle

  2. Allie says:

    That is wonderful! You’re making me want to move to Denver.

  3. wendy says:

    Alright!! Let’s hope it continues !!

  4. Cosky says:

    Hi Amy,

    This is really incredible news. And well done AG’s naughty lungs!
    As a child I travelled heaps throughout the US, Florida being the worst of all places for me with my asthma, anything humid is totally out. But you say you think the warm damp air helped AG? I have spent a great amount of time in Co, and been to the top of Pike’s Peak and Mount Wilson (with great difficulty!) and to all of the main ski resorts (in the summer months though!) however I found this a particular challenge, experiencing terrific SOB from the thinner air. I think I can remember being less ‘allergic’ and you’ve mentioned the lack of dust mites at altitude, but the dyspnea got to me. I hope that AG’s excited state of mind will also help keep her well-if she is going to start experiencing problems I suspect it may occur as the snow melts to slush and the air becomes very damp in a cold way. This happened to me a month ago in London after our freak snowfall…

    It’s just so good to hear a positive tale and long may it last so you can all enjoy your new surroundings.

    Susannah

  5. Cosky says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJvzp5199zM&feature=related

    You might find this story interesting-I remembered hearing it before.

    Susannah

  6. Debra says:

    Help!

    We live in South Florida. My daughter K has had asthma for the last 51/2 years. We would like her to go to a retreat for 5 days to Denver, CO, with a 2 day trip to Estes Park. Her doctor said 4000 high no problem but wouldn’t risk higher. Since you have been living there – what do you think?

  7. Amy says:

    Hi Debra–My asthma kid has done just fine ever since we moved from FL to CO, and we’ve even taken her hiking as high as 10,000 feet. Every case of asthma is different, and I’d certainly follow your doctor’s advice, of course, since he/she knows your daughter & her health best, but we haven’t noticed any worsening of symptoms after 2 years here. Moving to high altitude WAS a huge adjustment for all of us, though, so if you let her go then please talk to her doctor about preparations and possibly pre-treating.

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