Cough at high altitude | Uphill Athlete

Cough at high altitude

  • Creator
  • #43602

    Servus Thomas,

    still lung related questions from my side 😉

    I was in Chamonix and in the Bernina the last week. On high altitude (alt least for Europeans: Mont Blanc du Tacul (4200m) and Palü (3900m)), when it is colder I get a cough during the climb. It gets worse and worse and it really stresses my ribcage. I don’t see any deterioration in performance though, which is good.

    It lasts when I’m back at lower altitude. What helped very good is a hot drink like tea.

    Is that the Khumbu cough?

    Best regards

  • Inactive
    Anonymous on #43612

    Yes, it is the Khumbu cough, but that can also be caused by a viral infection.

    Your cough is cold/exercise induced asthma. Very common among cross country ski racers so I have been around it a lot in my coaching. Asthma meds will help. A special face mask like the Airtrim mask made in Sweden


    Dada on #43631

    Thanks, Scott!

    I noticed that asthma meds (salbutamol, Curticuide steroids, short-acting beta-agonists) do not help significantly.

    Thomas Summer, MD on #43653

    Servus Dada!

    It sounds like exercise-induced asthma/bronchoconstriction. Did you ever get tested for that? Do you have diagnosed asthma, because you could test all those asthma meds?
    I would recommend taking a short-acting beta-agonist, like salbutamol, before exercise. If it’s cold, try a face mask, like Scott recommends. Also nose breathing can be very helpfull.

    Salü Palü!

    Dada on #43657

    Servus Thomas,

    I’ve been diagnosed with allergic asthma but never have been testes for exercise-induced asthma. Maybe I’ll ask my lung doctor for a test. I already take Salbutamol before hard workouts, but it’s not so helpful in high European altitude and colder temperatures. I’ll check out the masks you both mentioned.

    Thanks guys!


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