ALTITUDE SICKNESS – from a Doctor in Peru

The altitude of the cusco region is very high and drying and may be hard to adjust to for a variety of reasons.  Most problems begin with dehydration, which of course, starts on the long flight to Peru.  You can help yourself immensely BEFORE you leave home:  several days before your flight, start drinking LOTS of water and continue to do so on the airplane. ( the recommendation for women in the high altitude is 3 liters of water per day!)  I know that that means more trips to the bathroom, but it will help ensure a problem free trip in the Andes.

The ultra violet radiation is EXTREMELY high, in the dangerous range, in all of Peru.  All school children now must user hats and long sleeves.  You should do that too. It is also advised that you wear sunglasses that protect from uv rays and use a high factor sunblock (which you can by here cheaply).

The use of diomox is NOT recommended by Dr. Paul Olivera, the chief of emergency medicine at the hospital here in Cusco.  Diomox is a diuretic which of course, means that you will need to drink even more water.  People allergic to penicillin CANNOT take this medicine.  If you feel  you must take it, do so exactly as recommended, which means starting before you leave home.  The high altitude sites site studies that recommend the use of high doses of ginko, starting 3 days before going to altitude.  I have found this very helpful.  I took one 500 ml tablet twice a day.

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