Boost Oxygen helping skiers, snowboarders in high country
VAIL — Altitude sickness is a real thing. It doesn’t discriminate by age or fitness level — anyone of any age can suffer from the lack of oxygen in the high country.
Boost Oxygen is an effective remedy for the effects that come with altitude sickness — loss of breath, headaches and feeling tired.
“Oxygen’s the No. 1 recommend remedy for altitude acclimation,” said Brian Hoek, president of Pinstripes Media and a representative of Boost, “but it’s never really been available before in these personal and portable-sized containers.”
The brightly colored canisters are popping up all around the county, from hotels to T-shirt shops to sporting goods stores.
DOES IT WORK?
At 95 percent pure oxygen, Boost is available without a prescription. The medical-grade oxygen tanks are over 99 percent pure oxygen.
Boost, based out of Bridgeport, Connecticut, hasn’t had to conduct any studies about the product because the science is already there, they say.
“At altitude, the air is thinner, the concentration of oxygen is less, which is what makes certain people feel altitude sickness,” Hoek said. “If people don’t have time to acclimate, then Boost gives them the oxygenation that their body’s not getting at altitude.”
The product temporarily boosts oxygen levels and can help relieve the effects that come with altitude sickness. It’s intended for recreational use, such as skiing or snowboarding.
There is little information about the medical benefit of Boost because there haven’t been many studies, if any at all. However, the larger Boost canisters hold 6 liters of oxygen, and those suffering from altitude sickness receive about 2-3 liters per minute from medical tanks, according to Dr. Dennis Lipton, an internist with the Internal Medicine Clinic at Vail Valley Medical Center.
“There’s really no way to know how much someone’s going to need unless they are in a physicians office and being monitored,” said Jeannine Benson, MD, a Kaiser Permanente Colorado physician at the Edwards medical office.
‘FELT LIKE I WAS DYING’
Suffering from altitude sickness is a quick way to end a day on the slopes. Instead of heading in for medical attention, Boost is helping keep people on the mountain.
Julie Burton, 34, of Kansas, was dealing with the flu on her first day of skiing and her symptoms were compounded by the added effects of altitude sickness.
“I just felt like I was dying,” Burton said. “I remember not being able to breathe. It felt like I was running when I walking.”
Burton’s husband, exhausting all possible remedies, stopped into a store along the way and grabbed some canisters of Boost. The temporary boost of oxygen helped ease the effects of altitude sickness, she said, but because of her flu symptoms, she still needed medical attention.
“People should just be aware of the altitude if they’re coming from (a lower) altitude,” Burton said. “My healthy friends felt tired the whole time, and I think the Boost oxygen really helped, especially if you’re not used to it.”
Burton said she’s returning to Breckenridge this season and will be relying on Boost to help with the acclimation to higher altitude.
Boost oxygen comes in two sizes. The big one with the mask holds about 22 ounces of oxygen. A one-second draw will allow for between 120-150 inhalations per canister. But each person is different, Hoek said, and it depends on how much oxygen you need to feel better.
Boost comes in four flavors: natural, peppermint, pink grapefruit and menthol-eucalyptus.
Colorado is the No. 1 selling state for Boost oxygen, although it’s available nationwide and has been picked up by several professional sports teams. The NHL’s New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, among others, have tested Boost on their benches during games. The New York Yankees also have it in the dugout to help with hot weather and bad air quality.
In the Vail Valley, Boost is building a presence and hopes to expand to inside hotel rooms, where patrons can catch their breath if needed.
“A lot of people we find underestimate altitude sickness,” Hoek said. “That fact is, it’s a genetic component.”
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.