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Steamboat Magazine

Local Knowledge: Dr. Steven Ross

11/16/2014 11:47PM ● By Christina Freeman

Air travel, high elevations, intense sun and unused muscles that are about to be worked can be a tough combination for your body. These factors need not be daunting, though, because becoming unwell at altitude is completely preventable. Longtime local pediatrician Dr. Steven Ross of Sleeping Bear Pediatrics oers several precautionarymeasures.

For people who are traveling here from lower elevations and a warmer climate, what’s your advice on adapting to the thinner, drier air? Nasal saline drops are a great way to avoid nasal and middle ear inflation that can be caused with pressure changes. Layer your clothing to maintain your body heat on colder days. Put on gloves and hats inside a warm building before heading outside. An extra layer of gloves and socks can do wonders on a chilly day. Drink soups, teas and hot cocoa to keep your body temperature up. Always wear sunglasses and apply sunblock, especially one containing zinc and an SPF of more than 30.

What signs might indicate a child is suffering from altitude sickness? Children and infants initially become irritable and tired when they experience high altitude sickness. Headaches and sensitivity to loud noises and light are typical. These symptoms can be prevented by oering plenty water and juices throughout the day, plus small, frequent whole grain snacks and fruit. Pedialyte is another option for preventing altitude sickness. Going down to a lower elevation can help a child who is feelingpoorly.

How do you recommend keeping blood sugars up while on the mountain.  Complex carbohydrates such as whole grain crackers provide steady blood sugar levels. Avoid salty snacks and caeine and remember to stay well hydrated. It’s easy to burn up a lot of additional calories while enjoying winter activities.

After a fun day of skiing, snowshoeing, tubing or snowboarding, any thoughts for achy muscles and general soreness? Try to stretch a little before heading out. Massages, warm compresses, hot showers and ibuprofen are helpful for aching legs and sore muscles.

What are typical reasons for treating avoidable illness? Forgetting to sleep enough and not wearing a ski helmet.

In one sentence, what is Dr. Ross’s mantra for the best chance at a fun day in the snow for a little one?  Plenty of sleep, hydration, sunglasses, sun block and mittens are the remedies for happy snow people “– unpublished verse by William Shakespeare.