How to Avoid Altitude Sickness

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness
A trip skiing, hiking or mountaineering through the mountaintops is a lifelong dream for many outdoor enthusiasts. But few put as much preparation into preventing altitude sickness as they do planning their perfect adventure. Dizziness, shortness of breath and disorientation could ruin a trip, damage your health, and keep you out of commission without careful monitoring. Taking it easy on your next trip to high altitudes and staying well hydrated are you best tools for preventing altitude sickness. Here are some pointers.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Water
  • Water
Step 1
Understand that making a slow and easy ascent is the best prevention for altitude sickness. Your body usually experiences the effects of altitude sickness at about 8,000 feet. It is a good rule of thumb not to travel higher than 1,000 feet a day once you have hit 8,000 feet. If you are physically fit, you may have an easier time adjusting. But if you live at low altitudes or at sea level, it may take longer to adjust regardless of your health and endurance. If you are on a hiking, skiing or mountaineering trip, try to arrive a few days early to give your body a chance to adjust. If you are in the middle of a long-distance hike or climb, take frequent breaks.
Step 2
Prevent symptoms including lightheadedness, weakness, shortness of breath, confusion and trouble sleeping by getting to lower altitude and giving your body a chance to orient itself. You need medical attention if you can't walk in a straight line, experience coughing or feel a shortness of breath during rest.
Step 3
Know that the atmospheric pressure can cause rapid dehydration and increase your odds of getting altitude sickness. Drinking plenty of water helps prevent altitude sickness and symptoms. But a few glasses won't do you much good after a day on the slopes. You need upward of 7 quarts of water a day when traveling in high altitudes, regardless of if you experience any thirst.
Step 4
Ask your doctor if you can take Diamox, Nifedical or a similar drug to help prevent altitude sickness. Packing ibuprofen is an also an asset for aches and pains brought on by high altitudes.
Step 5
Sleep lower than your hiking, mountaineering, biking or skiing destination. Each day, move up slowly to higher altitudes and continue to drink plenty of water.
Step 6
Don't overestimate your fitness level and health. Even if you are physically fit and live in an area of high altitude, failing to monitor your symptoms and staying hydrated can lead to altitude sickness.

Tips & Warnings

 
You are more likely to suffer from altitude sickness if you have had it before. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and sedatives. Get plenty of rest when traveling in high altitude. Try to sleep at a lower altitude than you are during the day to help orient your body.
 
You are more likely to suffer from altitude sickness if you have had it before.
 
Avoid alcohol, tobacco and sedatives.
 
Get plenty of rest when traveling in high altitude. Try to sleep at a lower altitude than you are during the day to help orient your body.
 
Seek medical attention immediately and do not continue hiking, climbing or skiing if you experience faintness, shortness of breath or confusion. Never take medication for altitude sickness, including Diamox or Nifedical, without consulting a doctor. These drugs could cause complications in some people and even exacerbate some symptoms of altitude sickness.
 
Seek medical attention immediately and do not continue hiking, climbing or skiing if you experience faintness, shortness of breath or confusion.
 
Never take medication for altitude sickness, including Diamox or Nifedical, without consulting a doctor. These drugs could cause complications in some people and even exacerbate some symptoms of altitude sickness.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.