Altitude Sickness | APEX | (2023)

Every year, people die of altitude sickness. All of these deaths are preventable. If you are travelling above 2500m (8000ft), read this information and tell your companions about it - it could save your life.

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness has three forms. Mild altitude sickness is calledacute mountain sickness (AMS)and is quite similar to a hangover - it causes headache, nausea, and fatigue. This is very common: some people are only slightly affected, others feel awful. However, if you have AMS, you should take this as a warning sign that you are at risk of the serious forms of altitude sickness:HAPEandHACE. Both HAPE and HACE can be fatal within hours.

Avoiding Altitude Sickness: Complete Beginner’s Guide (2020)

Altitude Sickness | APEX | (1)

Find out more about the cause, symptoms and treatment of acute mountain sickness.

Read More

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HAPEstands for high altitude pulmonary oedema. HAPE is excess fluid on the lungs, and causes breathlessness. It is never normal to feel breathless when you are resting - even on the summit of Everest. This should be taken as a sign that you have HAPE and may die soon. HAPE can also cause a fever (a high temperature) and coughing up frothy spit.HAPEandHACEoften occur together.

Read More

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HACE stands for high altitude cerebral oedema. HACEis fluid on the brain. It causes confusion, clumsiness, and stumbling. The first signs may be uncharacteristic behaviour such as laziness, excessive emotion or violence. Drowsiness and loss of consciousness occur shortly before death.

Read More



(Video) BCH Health Segment: Preventing Altitude Sickness


What causes altitude sickness?

Two things are certain to make altitude sickness very likely - ascending faster than 500m per day, and exercising vigourously. Physically fit individuals are not protected - even Olympic athletes get altitude sickness. Altitude sickness happens because there isless oxygen in the air that you breatheat high altitudes.

The Golden Rules
  1. If you feel unwell, you have altitude sickness until proven otherwise

  2. Do not ascend further if you have symptoms of altitude sickness

  3. If you are getting worse then descend immediately

Altitude sickness prevention

Go up slowly, take it easy, and give your body time to get used to the altitude. The body has an amazing ability to acclimatise to altitude, but it needs time. For instance, it takes about a week to adapt to an altitude of 5000m.

Can I take drugs to prevent altitude sickness?

As with everything, many 'quack' treatments and untested herbal remedies are claimed to prevent mountain sickness. These treatments can make AMS worse or have other dangerous side effects - many herbs are poisonous. Only one drug is currently known to prevent AMS and to be safe for this purpose: acetazolamide (diamox). It causes some minor side effects, such as tingling fingers and a funny taste in the mouth.

Please help us to spread this information as widely as possible. Everyone who travels to high altitude should know this.

Following these simple rules could prevent many deaths in the mountains each year.

Altitude sickness

Mild altitude sickness is calledacute mountain sickness (AMS)and is quite similar to a hangover - it causes headache, nausea, and fatigue.

Where doesacute mountain sicknesshappen?

Most people remain well at altitudes of up to 2500m, the equivalent barometric pressure to which aeroplane cabins are pressurised. However, even at around 1500m above sea level you may notice more breathlessness than normal on exercise and night vision may be impaired. Above 2500m, the symptoms of altitude sickness become more noticeable.

What are the other names for acute mountain sickness?

Acute mountain sickness is sometimes colloquially referred to as altitude sickness or mountain sickness and in South America it is called soroche.

How are the symptoms of altitude sickness measured?

The most prominent symptom is usually headache, and most people also experience nausea and even vomiting, lethargy, dizziness and poor sleep. Symptoms are very similar to a really bad hangover. Acute mountain sickness can be diagnosed using a self-assessment score sheet. If you have recently ascended to over 2500m, have a headache and your total score is 3 points or more on the score sheet, then you have acute mountain sickness.


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Altitude Sickness | APEX | (5)

Lake Louise Consensus on Acute Mountain Sickness 2018

The original Lake Louise Score (LLS) was devised by a consensus process and originally published in 1993. Since then it has been an invaluable tool for research into acute mountain sickness (AMS). In recent years, however, research has suggested that sleep disturbance, a diagnostic criterion in the original LLS, is, in fact, a separate entity from AMS. As such in 2018 a newly revised Lake Louise Acute Mountain Sickness Score was agreed by consensus and published. This revised score removed sleep disturbance and also recommended the use of an optional AMS clinical functional score, where the study design allowed.

This new score represents a significant change in the field of high altitude research and should be the standard assessment of AMS in studies involving the condition.


  1. Hall, D. P. et al. Network Analysis Reveals Distinct Clinical Syndromes Underlying Acute Mountain Sickness. PLoS ONE 9, e81229 (2014).
    [pre-print version published online at arXiv is availablehere]

  2. Macinnis, M. J., Lanting, S. C., Rupert, J. L., Koehle, M. S. Is poor sleep quality at high altitude separate from acute mountain sickness? Factor structure and internal consistency of the Lake Louise Score Questionnaire. High Alt. Med. Biol. 14, 334–337 (2013).

  3. Roach RC, Hackett PH, Oelz O, Bärtsch P, Luks AM, MacInnis MJ, Baillie JK, and the Lake Louise AMS Score Consensus Committee, The 2018 Lake Louise Acute Mountain Sickness Score. High Alt Med Biol. 2018;19: 4–6. doi:10.1089/ham.2017.0164

Lake Louise Score

(Video) Preventing Altitude Sickness | James Maloney, MD, Pulmonary disease & Critical care | UCHealth
Who gets acute mountain sickness?

Anyone who travels to altitudes of over 2500m is at risk of acute mountain sickness. Normally it does't become noticeable until you have been at that altitude for a few hours. Part of the mystery of acute mountain sickness is that it is difficult to predict who will be affected. There are many stories of fit and healthy people being badly limited by symptoms of acute mountain sickness, while their older companions have felt fine.

There are a number of factors that are linked to a higher risk of developing the condition. The higher the altitude you reach and the faster your rate of ascent, the more likely you are to get acute mountain sickness. On the Apex high altitude research expeditions, flying from sea level to the Bolivian capital, La Paz (3600m), caused over half of the expedition members to have acute mountain sickness on the day after they arrived. If you have a previous history of suffering from acute mountain sickness, then you are probably more likely to get it again. Older people tend to get less acute mountain sickness – but this could be because they have more common sense and ascend less quickly.

What causes altitude sickness?

There is so muchless oxygenin the high mountains that it is not surprising that travelling to high altitude causes people to feel unwell, but how this shortage of oxygen actually leads to altitude sickness is still not fully understood. Some scientists believe that it is due to swelling of the brain but the evidence for this hypothesis is not conclusive. The theory is that in susceptible individuals, swelling could cause a small increase in the pressure inside the skull and lead to symptoms of acute mountain sickness. The swelling may be due to increased blood flow to the brain or leakiness of blood vessels in the brain.

What are the treatments for altitude sickness (mountain sickness)?

It is better to prevent acute mountain sickness than to try to treat it. Following thegolden rulesshould mean that your body can acclimatise as you ascend and so you will be less likely to develop acute mountain sickness. However, if you need to go up more quickly, you could consider taking a drug called acetazolamide (also known as Diamox). There is now good evidence [BMJ. 2004;328:797] that acetazolamide reduces symptoms of acute mountain sickness in trekkers, although it does have some unusual side-effects: it makes your hands and feet tingle, and it makes fizzy drinks taste funny.

As with any form ofaltitude sickness, if you do have acute mountain sickness, the best treatment is descent. Painkillers may ease the headache, but they don’t treat the condition. Acetazolamide may be helpful, especially if you need to stay at the same altitude, and resting for a day or two might give your body time to recover. It is essential that you should NEVER go up higher if you have acute mountain sickness.

If a travelling companion has symptoms of acute mountain sickness and becomes confused or unsteady, or develops an extremely severe headache or vomiting, they may have a life-threatening condition called high altitude cerebral oedema (HACE).

There are many other remedies touted as treatments or 'cures' for altitude sickness, but there is no evidence to support any of them. On our recentresearch expeditionswe have conducted drug trials of antioxidants, which did not prevent altitude sickness, and viagra (Baillie JK et al, QJM 2009 102(5):341-348.

HAPE is a dangerous build-up of fluid in the lungs that prevents the air spaces from opening up and filling with fresh air with each breath. When this happens, the sufferer becomes progressively more short of oxygen, which in turn worsens the build-up of fluid in the lungs. In this way, HAPE can be fatal within hours.

If you have had HAPE, pleaseregister with the HAPE database and tell us about your experience.

HAPE usually develops after 2 or 3 days at altitudes above 2500 m. Typically the sufferer will be more breathless compared to those around them, especially on exertion. Most will have symptoms of acute mountain sickness. Often, they will have a cough and this may produce white or pink frothy sputum. The breathlessness will progress and soon they will be breathless even at rest. Heart rate may be fast, the lips may turn blue and body temperature may be elevated. It is easy to confuse symptoms of HAPE with a chest infection, but at altitude HAPE must be suspected and the affected individual must be evacuated to a lower altitude.

If you think you have had HAPE, register on the HAPE database.

Unfortunately, it is currently impossible to predict who will get HAPE. This is one of the reasons why we have established the HAPE database. People who have had HAPE before are much more likely to get it again. Therefore, there must be some factor that puts certain individuals at high risk of the condition. However, just like acute mountain sickness, there are some known risk factors. A fast rate of ascent and the altitude attained will make HAPE more likely. Vigorous exercise is also thought to make HAPE more likely and anecdotal evidence suggests that people with chest infections or symptoms of the common cold before ascent may be at higher risk.

The most important treatment for HAPE is descent. Providing extra oxygen and/or raising the air pressure around a victim with a Gamow bag can reverse the underlying process, lack of oxygen, but these measures are really no substitute however for rapid descent down the mountain.

Some drugs can be helpful, but should only be used by trained doctors. Nifedipine is a drug that helps to open up the blood vessels in the lungs. By doing so, it reduces the high pressure in those vessels that is forcing fluid out into the lungs. Sildenafil (Viagra®), by a different mechanism, also opens up the blood vessels in the lung and may be a useful treatment for HAPE. Following recent research, medics may also give the steroid, dexamethasone. Drug treatment should only ever be used as a temporary measure; the best treatment is descent.

What causes HAPE?

Despite years of careful research the exact causes of HAPE remain poorly understood. Fluid has been shown to fill up the air pockets in the lungs preventing oxygen getting into the blood and causing the vicious circle of events that can kill people with HAPE. As with many biological processes many factors play a role in the disease and there is good evidence to support a number of theories about how this fluid gets there.

Normally, oxygen gets into your blood and is supplied to the body from your lungs. Each time you take a breath in, air rushes into the tiny air pockets at the end of all the airway branches in your lungs. At the same time, blood from your heart is brought close to these thin-walled air pockets, so that oxygen can move into your blood while waste products move out. Oxygen-rich blood then returns to the heart and is supplied to the body. If, by accident, you inhaled a small object into your lungs, it would become stuck in one of the airways branches. Little oxygen would get to the downstream air pockets. To prevent this area of lung supplying blood starved of oxygen back to the heart (and therefore the rest of body), blood vessels in the area closed down or constrict. This is normally a very good thing and is an example of the body protecting itself.

At altitude however, this same process is a cause of the disease HAPE. Because the whole lung is starved of oxygen, the whole lung reacts in the same way – blood vessels constricting all over the place and not just in small areas. The blood in these vessels is squeezed and the pressure goes up forcing fluid out of blood and into air pockets.

Very dangerous and reactive substances are formed in your blood when you are starved of oxygen and these can directly damage the special membrane between air and blood in your lungs causing further fluid leak and worsening HAPE.

Altitude Sickness | APEX | (6)



(Video) Treating Altitude Sickness | James Maloney, MD, Pulmonary disease and Critical care | UCHealth

HACE is a build-up of fluid in the brain. HACE is life-threatening and requires urgent action.

HACE is thought to be a severe form of acute mountain sickness. A severe headache, vomiting and lethargy will progress to unsteadiness, confusion, drowsiness and ultimately coma. HACE can kill in only a few hours. A person with HACE will find it difficult to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line – this is a useful test to perform in someone with severe symptoms of acute mountain sickness. HACE should also be suspected if a companion starts to behave irrationally or bizarrely.

About 1% of people of ascend to above 3000m get HACE. The lowest altitude at which a case of HACE has been reported was 2100m. HACE can also occur in people with HAPE and vice versa. Factors that increase the risk of HACE are similar to those for acute mountain sickness and HAPE. The faster the rate of ascent and the higher the altitude, the more likely it is that HACE will develop. HACE is thought to occur mainly in trekkers or climbers who have ignored symptoms of acute mountain sickness and climbed higher rather than staying at the same altitude or descending.

Descent is the most effective treatment of HACE and should not be delayed if HACE is suspected. A Gamow bag, or portable altitude chamber, can be used as a temporary measure and, if available, oxygen and a drug called dexamethasone should be given.

What causes HACE?

The cause of HACE remains unknown. Several factors may play a role including increased blood flow to the brain. An increase in blood flow is a normal response to low oxygen levels as the body needs to maintain a constant supply of oxygen to the brain. However, if the blood vessels in the brain are damaged, fluid may leak out and result in HACE. Although we know that reactive chemicals are released when oxygen levels are low and that these chemicals can damage blood vessel walls, it still hasn’t been proven that the blood vessels in the brain are actually more leaky.

Refs: Hackett P and Roach RC. High altitude cerebral oedema. HAMB 2004; 5(2):136-146

byKenneth Baillie,A.A. Roger Thompson,Matthew Bates

Altitude Sickness | APEX | (7)






Poor sleep is common at high altitude.

Most people don’t sleep well at altitude. Climbers commonly report vivid dreams, feelings of being suffocated and wake feeling unrefreshed. Disturbed sleep forms one category of the self-assessment score sheet that is used to diagnosealtitude sickness, although this is controversial as other factors might affect sleep at altitude, not just acute mountain sickness. The cold, the wind, noisy or smelly tent companions and long distance travel can all disturb a restful night’s sleep. However, there are important changes in the way we sleep at altitude that makes sleep quality poor.

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Sleep Stages

Sleep can be divided into stages that are defined by the pattern of electrical activity in the brain and eye movement. Deeper stages of sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are reduced at altitude, therefore more of the night will be spent as light sleep and sleep quality will not be as good as at sea level.

Periodic Breathing

Periodic breathing (Cheyne Stokes breathing, or PB) is common at high altitude and becomes more frequent with increasing altitude. Periodic breathing involves alternating periods of deep breathing and shallow breathing. Typically, three to five deep breaths will be followed by a couple of very shallow breaths or even a complete pause in breathing. A pause in breathing like this usually lasts around 5 to 15 seconds and is called an apnoea. Apnoeas may end with a gasp that sometimes wakes the individual or their sleeping companions! People may breathe this way for most of the night.

During apnoeic phases,oxygen levelsdrop and heart rate slows. Oxygen levels and heart rate rise again when breathing resumes resulting in cyclical variations in heart rate and the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Low oxygen levels overnight are likely to disturb sleep but PB may also contribute to arousals: periods when you almost or completely wake up. Arousals are more frequent at altitude, but they can occur even in the absence of periodic breathing. Perhaps surprisingly, although PB may disturb sleep, it doesn’t seem to make the other symptoms of acute mountain sickness worse.

Why does periodic breathing happen?

At sea level the build up of the waste gas, carbon dioxide, in the blood controls breathing. If you hold your breath, carbon dioxide levels rise and create the urge to breathe. At high altitude, the body senses low oxygen levels and this becomes the main drive to breathe. Breathing faster and deeper at high altitude leads to a profound reduction in the carbon dioxide levels in the blood. You can read more about the effects of breathing harder at altitude here. During sleep at high altitude, the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood can drop very low and this can switch off the drive to breathe. Only after the body senses a further drop in oxygen levels do you start breathing again. During the apnoea carbon dioxide levels rise but levels fall again when ventilation resumes, continuing the cycle.

byA.A. Roger Thompson

Sleep at altitude

A dry, debilitating cough at high altitude is common

Many people who travel to high altitude complain of cough. It is a dry debilitating cough and its consequences, aside from interfering with climbing and sleeping can be severe. On the 1971 International Himalayan Expedition no less than four members suffered rib fractures because of their cough.

Altitude cough may be due to bronchoconstriction (the narrowing of the airways that commonly occurs in asthma) or infections, but research has shown that the cough can occur without any evidence of infection or airway narrowing.

Cough could be caused by breathing cold dry air on the mountains, but studies of cough in hypobaric chambers that controlled the ambient temperature and humidity suggest that the receptors in the airways that provoke cough are actually more sensitive at altitude.

What might make cough receptors more sensitive? Three possible theories exist. Firstly, inflammation in the airways at high altitude may increase the receptor sensitivity. Secondly, changes in the brain caused by acclimatisation could sensitise the receptors that cause cough or thirdly, there could be a build up of fluid in the lungs. Some scientists think that a small amount fluid leaks out into the air spaces in many people who go to high altitude without actually causing the symptoms and signs of HAPE. Nevertheless, a severe cough and breathlessness could representHAPEand if suspected, urgent descent is necessary.

by byA.A. Roger Thompson

High altitude cough

This simple, plain-English handbook was written by theMedexteam in order to provide easy access to important information for laypeople travelling to high altitude. It will tell you detailed information aboutaltitude sickness, frostbite,hypothermia, and much more. You can download a full copy from the medex website by clicking on one of the following links:

Altitude Travel Handbook

A5, low resolution (880kb).
A5, high resolution (3886kb).
A4, low resolution (840kb).
A4, high resolution (3827kb).

(Video) Altitude Sickness - Recognising the Symptoms

Altitude handbook


What are the 3 stages of altitude sickness? ›

Altitude illness is divided into 3 syndromes: acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).

What are 4 symptoms of altitude sickness? ›

Nausea. Vomiting. Fatigue and loss of energy. Shortness of breath.

How long does altitude sickness last? ›

AMS symptoms are often the worst after the first night and improve within one day if you do not ascend to a higher altitude. Symptoms may return as you travel higher. However, symptoms can sometimes persist for days, even if you do not climb higher.

Who suffers most in altitude sickness? ›

The risk of developing altitude sickness between the genders is believed to be equal. However, some observational studies have shown that women have a slightly higher risk than men.

Who is prone to altitude sickness? ›

Anyone can get altitude sickness. Your age, sex and general health don't seem to affect your risk. You may be at higher risk if you: Have a lung or heart condition: Your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding high altitudes if possible.

Does drinking a lot of water help with altitude sickness? ›

Myth #4 - Drinking extra water will protect you from altitude illness. Staying hydrated is important at altitude. Symptoms of dehydration are similar to AMS. In reality you only need an additional liter to a liter and a half of water at altitude.

What foods help altitude sickness? ›

Fill your plate with complex carbohydrates. This is not the time to ditch carbs. At high altitudes, your body requires a lot of energy to make use of whatever oxygen is available to it. Complex carbs become a consistent source of that energy.

What is the fastest way to adjust to altitude? ›

If possible, spend a few days at 8,000–9,000 feet before traveling to a higher elevation. This gives your body time to adjust to the lower oxygen levels. Once you are above an elevation of 9,000 feet, increase where you will sleep by no more than 1,600 feet per day.

Why does altitude sickness get worse at night? ›

Hypoxic sleep disruption contributes to the symptoms of acute mountain sickness. Hypoxemia at high altitude is most severe during sleep.

How long does it take to adjust to altitude in Denver? ›

Symptoms of altitude sickness

Honigman said it takes about 24 to 36 hours to acclimate. People with persistent headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting and continued lack of sleep by the second night should seek medical attention.

How can I prevent altitude sickness in Colorado? ›

Top 9 High Altitude Tips
  1. Stay below 7,000 feet the first day (the city of Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet above sea level.)
  2. Give your body time to adjust (there are lots to see and do at lower altitudes.)
  3. Avoid strenuous exercise on the first day.
  4. Limit alcohol intake. ...
  5. Drink more water. ...
  6. Always travel with a companion.
Oct 31, 2016

How do you stop altitude sickness naturally? ›

If you're hiking up a mountain and worried about altitude sickness, experts recommend that starting at a point that is below 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and walking up if possible. Slowly acclimating greatly helps to prevents altitude illness, improves sleep, and increases comfort and well-being.

How do you prevent altitude sickness in Denver? ›

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness
  1. The most reliable way to avoid altitude sickness is to ascend to altitude slowly, say spending a night in Denver before traveling to the mountains.
  2. Do not overexert yourself.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids.

Does ibuprofen help with altitude sickness? ›

Ibuprofen helps relieve the swelling and inflammation triggered at higher elevations. It's rapidly absorbed and cheaper than some prescription drugs. It's also generally well-tolerated, though it can cause upset stomach and, in bad cases, bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.

Should I be worried about altitude sickness? ›

If you ascend to altitudes above 8,000 feet, you will be in danger of developing uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms from the change in altitude. Symptoms of altitude sickness that are not life threatening are called acute mountain sickness.

Why don't you get altitude sickness in a plane? ›

The cabin air pressure in an airplane is adjusted to compensate for these high altitudes. The oxygen level is comparable to levels found in elevations of 5,000 to 9,000 feet. Both men and women can get altitude sickness. Age, general health, and physical condition do not affect your chances for altitude sickness.

Why can't Some people handle high altitude? ›

The low amount of oxygen in the air at high altitudes causes high-altitude illness. The amount of oxygen in the air goes down as you climb higher above sea level and becomes very low at altitudes above 8,000 feet. If you travel to a high altitude, you may feel ill because the air has less oxygen in it.

Do altitude pills work? ›

Acetazolamide is used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. This medication can decrease headache, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath that can occur when you climb quickly to high altitudes (generally above 10,000 feet/3,048 meters).

Where does altitude sickness start? ›

If your body does not get enough time to acclimatise to being at high altitude, you can develop altitude sickness (sometimes called mountain sickness). Altitude sickness usually happens at levels above 2,500m. Altitude sickness can develop very quickly and can be life threatening.

Is Gatorade good for altitude sickness? ›

There is no better remedy for symptoms of altitude sickness than hydration. Drinking as much water as you can, will help increase your blood oxygen levels and reduce symptoms. Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade or Pedialyte, or electrolyte mix-ins such as Acli-Mate or Nuun can help to support hydration as well.

What is the best electrolyte for high altitude? ›

Gatorade packets, Emergen---C, Nuun tablets are all electrolyte supplements that can be added to your water. Acclimate Slowly. Those driving in will have more opportunity for this, but this is especially important if you plan on doing any physical activity with or without elevation gain.

Do electrolytes help prevent altitude sickness? ›

A critical component up in high country is monitoring your electrolyte balance, as it helps you combat altitude sickness and nausea. Electrolytes aren't just salt. They are comprised of Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride, Bicarbonate, and Hydrogen phosphate (what we sweat out!).

Does chewing gum help with altitude sickness? ›

This helps equalize pressure on either side of the eardrum. Swallowing or yawning can unclog blocked ears when you are going up or coming down from high altitudes. Chewing gum the entire time you are changing altitudes helps by causing you to swallow often. This may prevent your ears from getting blocked.

How do you hydrate for high-altitude? ›

The IAM recommends drinking an extra 1-1.5 liters of water daily at high-altitude, for a total of 3-4 liters. Ideally, those 3-4 liters would contain 2-300 grams of carbohydrates. Supplementing electrolytes is important for any high-output activity, but it becomes crucial at higher altitudes as well.

Why do you lose weight at high-altitude? ›

Activation of HIF upon altitude exposure may transcriptionally upregulate leptin levels, enhance leptin sensitivity, which in turn may suppress appetite and facilitate weight loss through increased energy expenditure.

Is 5000 feet considered high altitude? ›

Although the definition of high altitude varies, generally an elevation of 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet above sea level is considered moderately high altitude, and an elevation of 8,000 to 14,000 feet is designated as high altitude.

How do you acclimate to Colorado altitude? ›


Before your trip to Denver, and while you are here, drinking plenty of water is the number one way to help your body adjust easily to our higher altitude. The low humidity in Colorado keeps the air dry, like the desert, so you need about twice as much water here as you would drink at home.

Will I get altitude sickness in Denver? ›

If you live in Denver, you're likely familiar with the term “altitude sickness.” Both residents and visitors to alpine environments can experience altitude sickness, but it's most common in individuals who are not acclimated to traveling above sea level.

What is the 1500 foot rule for altitude sickness? ›

Go down at least 1500 ft (450 m). Go to a lower altitude as fast as you can or get emergency help if someone with you has severe symptoms such as being confused or not being able to walk straight. Go with the person. Never let someone with severe altitude sickness go down alone.

What OTC medication can I take for altitude sickness? ›

Medications for Altitude Sickness

Over-the-counter remedies—ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin—all help relieve the headache associated with AMS and HACE. It's not uncommon for the headache to persist, though, after these medications are taken.

Does bottled oxygen help altitude sickness? ›

The promise: A 15- or 20-minute dose of O2 can help alleviate mild symptoms of acute altitude sickness—fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, and nausea—that many people suffer from in mountain environments.

What city in the US has the highest elevation? ›

Leadville – 10,152 ft (3,094 m)

Leadville is the highest elevated city in the United States of America, and the second highest community in Colorado.

Why do I feel sick in Colorado? ›

Altitude sickness is a common affliction for Colorado visitors and even residents. Its caused by the bodys inability to adjust to higher altitudes and results in flu-like symptoms. Altitude sicknesscan affect anyone, soits best treated with preventative measures.

What are the 3 stages of acclimatization to high altitude? ›

The three stages are the preparation stage, the ascent stage and the descent stage.

Can Tylenol help with altitude sickness? ›

Acetaminophen. A single study demonstrated that acetaminophen 1000 mg 3 times daily was as effective as ibuprofen at preventing AMS in trekkers travelling between 4,370m/ 14,337 feet and 4,940m/ 16, 207 feet in elevation.

Can you throw up from altitude sickness? ›

Summary. Mountain climbers are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is caused by ascending too rapidly, which doesn't allow the body enough time to adjust to reduced oxygen and changes in air pressure. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, insomnia and reduced performance and coordination.

What is the fastest way to adjust to high altitude? ›

If possible, spend a few days at 8,000–9,000 feet before traveling to a higher elevation. This gives your body time to adjust to the lower oxygen levels. Once you are above an elevation of 9,000 feet, increase where you will sleep by no more than 1,600 feet per day.

What happens first after exposure to high altitude? ›

What happens in the body in high altitudes? Within seconds of exposure to altitude, ventilation is increased, meaning we start trying to breathe more, as the body responds to less oxygen in each breath, and attempts to increase oxygen uptake.

What medicine is good for high altitude? ›

Acetazolamide, or Diamox, is the standard medical prophylaxis agent for high altitude illness. The medication is effective in preventing acute mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).

How do you deal with altitude sickness in Colorado? ›

Top 9 High Altitude Tips
  1. Stay below 7,000 feet the first day (the city of Colorado Springs is 6,035 feet above sea level.)
  2. Give your body time to adjust (there are lots to see and do at lower altitudes.)
  3. Avoid strenuous exercise on the first day.
  4. Limit alcohol intake. ...
  5. Drink more water. ...
  6. Always travel with a companion.
Oct 31, 2016

What level does altitude sickness start? ›

If your body does not get enough time to acclimatise to being at high altitude, you can develop altitude sickness (sometimes called mountain sickness). Altitude sickness usually happens at levels above 2,500m. Altitude sickness can develop very quickly and can be life threatening.

How long does it take to adjust to Denver altitude? ›

Symptoms of altitude sickness

Honigman said it takes about 24 to 36 hours to acclimate. People with persistent headaches, loss of appetite, vomiting and continued lack of sleep by the second night should seek medical attention.

Does drinking water help with altitude sickness? ›

You are probably wondering, “Why does drinking water help with altitude sickness?” Drinking enough water to hydrate can help you relieve symptoms such as headaches. This can be mitigated by slowly drinking a liter of fluid and taking acetaminophen. If the problem goes away, then you were most likely dehydrated.

Do altitude sickness pills work? ›

Acetazolamide is used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. This medication can decrease headache, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath that can occur when you climb quickly to high altitudes (generally above 10,000 feet/3,048 meters).

Is Tylenol or Advil better for altitude sickness? ›

Abstract. Ibuprofen has been shown to be more effective than placebo in the treatment of high altitude headache (HAH), but nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents have been linked to increased incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) side effects and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).


1. What Does Altitude Sickness Do to the Human Brain?
2. Wilderness Medicine: High Altitude Sickness Prevention
(MedWild - Wilderness Medicine, Survival, Rescue)
3. Alternative Treatment of Altitude Sickness: Manual Medicine | Kelly Riis-Johannessen | TEDxChamonix
(TEDx Talks)
4. Diamox Side Effects - The Guide to Altitude Sickness Prevention
(Chase Mountains)
5. 3 Life Saving Drugs (LSD) To Tackle Altitude Sickness
6. HIGH ALTITUDE SICKNESS : How to prevent ?


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Name: Arielle Torp

Birthday: 1997-09-20

Address: 87313 Erdman Vista, North Dustinborough, WA 37563

Phone: +97216742823598

Job: Central Technology Officer

Hobby: Taekwondo, Macrame, Foreign language learning, Kite flying, Cooking, Skiing, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Arielle Torp, I am a comfortable, kind, zealous, lovely, jolly, colorful, adventurous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.