I just booked a trip to Keystone, Colorado with my sisters! We’re staying at an awesome condo right at the lift, and we’re going to ski, eat, drink, ice skate, and ski some more. I’ll post about the actual trip in a few weeks but since Keystone sits at 9,280 feet at the base of the mountain and a whopping 12,408 feet at the summit, I thought a post on altitude and altitude sickness would be a good prequel.
Altitude sickness can be debilitating and a real vacation ruiner for sea-level inhabitants. Everyone who is newly arriving at altitude is susceptible to this, regardless of age or fitness level. There is less oxygen in the air at higher elevations so your body has to work harder to get what it needs. This results in a lot of varied symptoms that can be different from one person to the next. You may experience some or all on the list below – or maybe other symptoms entirely.
Some Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
- Shortness of breath / pounding heart
It can feel a lot like a bad hangover and in fact, your body is much less efficient at processing alcohol when you are at altitude so be very careful about the amount that you’re consuming as you won’t be able to drink as much as you may be accustomed to. If you’re not careful, you can aggravate your altitude sickness by adding an actual hangover on top.
The good news is that most altitude sickness goes away on it’s own after a few days. In the meantime, there are ways to help your body cope and acclimate more easily.
Remedies for Altitude Sickness
- HYDRATE!!!! I can’t stress this enough. Give your poor, shriveled, screaming cells some water!! A LOT of water.
- Avoid alcohol. Your body won’t be able to process it as well and we all know that alcohol is dehydrating which runs directly counter to rule number 1, above.
- Start out slowly. Don’t plan anything strenuous for the first 24 hours if you can help it at all. That includes hitting the slopes.
- DO take Tylenol for a headache if you need to.
- DON’T take sleeping pills to help you sleep as these can suppress (your already labored) breathing.
- Breathe! Concentrated breathing and stillness can help you feel better as it’s the thinner air and lack of oxygen that are the big culprits of altitude sickness.
Some people can develop very acute altitude sickness that can be life threatening and needs medical attention. Listen to your body and if your symptoms are much stronger than the ones listed above, seek medical attention!