Medical Recommendations - Jungfrau Railways
Our railways make possible rapid travel up to high altitudes. Air pressure and thus the oxygen in the air we breathe reduces with increasing altitude. A healthy body has a first-class acclimatization mechanism that allows a relatively fast ascent to medium and higher altitudes (to around 4000 m) without any detrimental effect on healt. The classic forms of altitude sickness (high-altitude oedemas) first appear after a 6-12 hour stay at over 2500 m.
Altitude sickness is thus of no practical significance to a short stay on the Jungfraujoch. Nevertheless, an excursion to a high-altitude stay carries risks for persons suffering from certain cardiac, lung, circulatory and blood disorders.
High-altitude stay with no restictions:
- Advanced age is no obstacle to a high-altitude stay.
- A high-altitude stay is harmless for people with blood-pressure problems that are well regulated by medication.
- Asthma sufferes can travel up to high altitudes without a second thought. The air at high altitudes is far less polluted with particles that can trigger an attack.
- Epileptics whose condition is well controlled by medication can travel up to high altitudes.
In case of doubt, we recommend taking medical advice:
- Patients who have undergone successful cardiovascular surgery, are fully fit in the lowland and do not suffer from Angina pectoris may be able to plan a high-altitude excursion after consultation with their doctor.
- A visit to the Jungfraujoch for patients with cardiac dilatation and cardiac insufficiency (weak heart) may be possible with previous medical advice and if cardiac performance is not severely limited in the lowlands.
- Previous medical advice is recommended in cases of certain chronic blood disorders with anaemia.
- Pregnancy: There may be a potential risk to pregnancy at altitudes over 2500-3000 metres, even in the absence of an existing illness. Caution is thus advised!
- Babies and small children under two years of age should not spend the night at altitudes over 2500 metres. Short stays on the Jungfraujoch do not present any problems. Infants and small children are often unable to cope with the change of air pressure on the downhill journey and are thus more at risk of ear discomfort. Regular swallowing (drinks, babies' bottles) during the descent can prevent this discomfort occuring. Children lose body heat faster than adults and so care must be taken to ensure they are well protected against the cold at higher altitudes. Sunglasses and a good sunscreen are absolutely essential on the glacier!
High-altitude stays not recommended:
- Lung and cardiac patients who suffer from shortage of breath while at rest or climbing stairs must be advised against a high-altitude stay.
- Patients with angina pectoris or a greatly reduces cardiac performance with cardiac dilatation or cardiac insufficiency should not travel to high altitudes.
- Patients receiving medical treatment for cardiovascular disease (angina pectoris) or dilatation of the heart should not travel to high-altitudes.
- Those with marked risk profile for cardiovascular diseases (smokers + high blood pressure + diabetes + high blood lipids + overweight + occasional chest pain) should consult their doctor before making a high-altitude stay.
- Persons who have suffered a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke should not travel up to high altitudes.
More practical advice:
- Persons suffering from a common cold are advised to use a decongestant nasal spray before starting the downhill journey, to avoid ear discomfort caused by lack of pressure equalization.
- Ambient temperature drops with increasing altitude. Warm clothing is therefore essential for excursions over 1500 metres altitude, even in high summer.
- The intensive radiation at high altitudes necessitates suitable sun protection for the skin and eyes. Persons visiting the glacier without sunglasses run the very real risk of snow blindness!
- Excessive consumption of alcohol before or during your visit can ruin your day.