Prevention is Key
Altitude Illness is usually preventable if ascent is slow. Travelling above 8,000 feet is when it is most likely you will become symptomatic. Your risk increases by 15% if you will be sleeping above 8,000 feet. This is true despite the fact you believe you are in excellent shape. Your physical condition has no bearing on your ability to accumulate to altitude.
How Can You Improve Acclimation to Altitude?
Sleeping a night or two at a lower elevation will help speed the body’s process of acclimatizing. Such as at 5,000 feet.
Take it Easy
Many of us can not resit the urge to overdo it the first day or two when you hit an awesome new spot. Its best to take it easy so you don’t ruin the rest of your trip. Stop early in any physical activity when you start to feel fatigue or any prolonged breathlessness.
High Carbohydrate Diet.
Increase your carbohydrate intake to about 70% of your total calories. You know a nice short-stack of hotcakes; or something like pasta or rice. Whatever your fancy.
Avoid Alcohol, Tranquilizers & Sleeping Pills
For the first two nights you should avoid alcohol, tranquilizers & sleeping pills. All of these things slow your body’s ability to adjust to the higher elevation. This is critical if you exhibit any of the symptoms below.
There is prescription medication which helps prevent illness and speed acclimation. Any symptoms worse after second night sleeping at a higher altitude will benefit from such prescriptions.
Drinking lots of water helps your body acclimate. Another very effective addition in preventing Altitude sickness is supplemental oxygen.
Symptoms of Altitude Illness
- Poor Appetite
- Run Down Feeling
- Shortness of Breath with Exertion
Mild symptoms are indistinguishable from a hang over. Tylenol or aspirin for headache. Benadryl for nausea. Avoid all alcohol.*
- Headache not relieved by Tylenol or aspirin
- Raspy Cough
- Balance/coordination problem
- Wet Cough
- Disoriented “Leave me alone”
- Too Weak to Eat or Get up
- Lips or Fingernails Blue in Color
Seek medical help immediately!*
* This is not medical advice. Please speak with a physician for medical advice.