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Ecuador and Peru with young teen and mom with asthma?

My family is going to Ecuador (Amazon Lodge and Galapagos) and then on to Macchu Pichu this coming summer.

I have well controlled asthma, am in very good physical shape and haven't had an issue in the Rockies but am wondering if anyone has traveled to the Andes with an asthmatic and how they did?

Also, wondering how to handle altitude with my 13 year old son. Are the coco leaves/tea OK for him? I'm fine with homeopathic stuff but have only seen posts about adults drinking it....

Thanks!

Posted by
971 posts

I have no experience with asthma, but i did drink a lot of Coca tea and chef the leaves when I visited the Andes. The effect of drinking the tea was very mild, when chewing it it was a bit stronger. I would compare the strength with drinking strong coffee, though the effects are different.

Posted by
6858 posts

I don't think anyone can tell you exactly how altitude sickness will affect you, since it affects people even without asthma differently. The key is to give yourself some extra days to acclimate, to take a number of shorter hikes (before a big one), stay really well hydrated, be well rested, and to watch carefully for signs of altitude sickness and to take it seriously. I've been to the Argentinean Andes and remember having mild headaches and being short of breath at times.

Are you also going to the Andes in Ecuador, or just staying in flat areas like the Amazon? If you are, then it will be more similar to Macchu Picchiu.

Posted by
2818 posts

Altitude sickness can affect anyone regardless of age or health status. But with asthma, you should talk to your doctor about it, rather than ask a bunch of strangers about self-medicating with herbal remedies.

Posted by
7503 posts

What does your doctor think? I have mild asthma and my MD told me not to visit Peru due to the altitude. I do fine in the CO Rockies but at times you will have much higher altitude in Peru.

Posted by
6858 posts

Consulting your doctor sounds like the best idea, not only for you but for your son. He may react worse than you to the altitude. You never know.

Macchiu Picchiu altitude is 7,972′, but there are much taller mountains in Peru (although you didn't say you were going to any of them). The peak of Mount Evans in CO (near Denver) is taller than that, and there are many peaks in CO Rockies that measure 14k.

Posted by
7088 posts

I have asthma. I use a prophylactic called QVAR usually just during the summer months. Last summer I had no problems at 9,700 feet on the Schilthorn, Switzerland. Every asthmatic has different triggers though.

Posted by
971 posts

If I understand your post correctly it is only you and not your son that has asthma?
And to ad to what I gues Agnes is trying to say (those nummers are gibberish to me:-)) Macchu Pichu is only about 2500 meters above sea level, which is not very high. I don’t think altitude signess is very common at that altitude, but it does affect people very differently.

Posted by
6858 posts

In addition to age and physical fitness, it also depends how you plan on hiking Macchiu Picchiu. There are strenuous multi-day hikes and not so strenuous ways to see it. Cusco, where many people overnight or fly into, is already at a high elevation (higher than Macchiu Picchiu) - 11,152′.

Posted by
2818 posts

It is Cusco that presents the altitude problem, more than Machu Picchu. Most people spend some time in Cusco first.

Posted by
8440 posts

Another "check with your doctor' vote

Also, research/compare the altitudes you have been with where you are going to see what differences/similarities exist to get some insight on how you may react

Posted by
5487 posts

Ideally, start at lower elevations and work your way up over a few days. When I travelled straight to Cusco, one of the group, who was in her early 40s and wasn't asthmatic, had issues the first night and had to be given oxygen. Seek the advice of your doctor.

Coco leaves and tea are illegal in the UK and although I couldn't feel the effects of the tea, you may not want to give a 13 year old a mild narcotic.

Posted by
36 posts

Yes, that was my initial feeling about the tea as well so thank you for all the input. I think we will probably all avoid it.

Regarding my asthma, yes, I was waiting to hear back from my doctor (because it being an issue actually had not even occurred to me until I with looking at how to prevent altitude and saw mention of issues with asthmatics and high altitude) and wanted to get a sense as to what others had experienced to prepare myself for great disappointment.

However, I have been told since my asthma is well controlled and I only take my inhaler as a preventative before running, it should not be a big issue.

Thanks for all the responses!

Posted by
996 posts

Another vote for check with all doctors for all patients concerned, but since this is such a new location for both you and your son, I'd ask the doctor if any additional meds were necessary. And possibly check with a travel clinic. They may also be able to give you some good advice!

Posted by
4637 posts

It depends where you would land. Machu Pichu is probably safe elevation for you. But if you land in Cusco or Quito that's quite higher elevation. Most healthy people still tolerate it.

Posted by
3588 posts

You haven't said what altitude you live at, or what "the Rockies" means. I have no trouble in Jackson or Glacier but setting up a tent at Rocky Mtn Natl Park almost did me in. There's a big difference between 5000' and 8000'

Posted by
2526 posts

We flew into the great colonial city of Cusco on our way to visiting the incredible Machu Picchu. Cusco is around 11,000' altitude, while Machu Picchu is around 8,000' altitude. Breathing while in Cusco was noticeable to me...not uncomfortable. Oxygen was available in the hotel for those needing same. Coca leaves and coca tea are commonly available. For me, chewing the coca leaves is like chewing grass (lawn version, not marijuana) and offered nothing beneficial. Tea? Meh. Visit if you can....amazing.