Skin and Hair
This site is provided for informational
purposes only. The information here is not intended to diagnose
or treat any condition, and should not replace the care and attention
of qualified medical personnel. Use the information on these pages
at your own risk, and, as with any information pertaining to health,
nutrition, mental health, or fitness, consult your physician before making any
changes that might affect your overall health.
It takes between
2 weeks and 2 months for your body to adapt to living at higher
altitude. Most of it happens without an individual even being
aware of the changes.
a child is born at higher altitude, their lungs naturally
grow larger to accommodate the need for increased oxygen.
At very high altitudes, this results in a more "barrel
chest" appearance, because the rib cage also grows a
someone whose lungs are fully developed moves to higher altitudes,
their body no longer has the capacity to do that. Nature provides
another way to adapt, and their body produces additional red
blood cells to carry oxygen more efficiently. Within 2 months
of moving to a higher altitude, your body has adjusted to
adaptation can be hampered by conditions which interfere with
the proper production of red blood cells. People with such
conditions need to be aware of the potential problems before
moving, and seek counsel from their physician.
also require more water at higher altitudes. Initially, the
need can be much greater, but over time, you adjust to that
also, partly because your body learns to be more efficient
with what it has, and partly because you simply get used to
drinking more water.
are other changes that occur over time. Many people find that
after living at high altitude for a while, some conditions
may improve, others may worsen. Breathing problems are likely
to worsen some with time. Arthritis may improve, or worsen,
depending on the type, and the individual - My mother has
severe osteoarthritis, and for her, the dryer climate and
high altitude relieves 80% of her pain.
affects from living in the mountains will only be noticeable
after a year or more. And not all are due to altitude. Some
are due to low humidity, wind, cold, increased sunlight intensity,
minerals in the water, and other factors. Affects can be positive
or negative, depending on the individual.
Editorial Comments throughout this site written by Laura Wheeler (with occasional sarcastic remarks by her son, David). Laura is a 10 year resident of Medicine Bow, Wyoming, where the altitude is greater than the population. Medicine Bow is at 6200+ ft above sea level, and boasts a total of 297 residents from the last census. Laura is an experienced technical, health and family writer.