Coping with High Altitudes

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It’s not just during hikes and adventure sports that high altitudes matter. Many cities across the US are located on high elevations. Unless you have lived in such a place for your entire life, acclimatizing to high altitudes takes some time and measures. If you’re not aware of the elevation of your destination, you may even be convinced that you’re sick without any reason. If this happens, consider the altitude you’re at - any local resident or even weather stations can give you this information.

Destination and Preparation

While figuring out the spots to be covered, nearby restaurants, etc, also find out about the local weather and elevation. Pack clothing and other requisites accordingly. If you live near the sea or generally at close to zero elevation, you’re likely to have more trouble in coping with high altitudes, irrespective of your physical fitness levels. Of course it does help to be in good health for general coping and immunity. See a doctor if you already have a medical condition or fear that you may not be able to cope well. You may be prescribed medicines or asked to pack some simple things such as tea or ginger chews for the nausea.

Go Slow and Steady

The body reacts to all kinds of shocks; hence going to higher altitudes should be pursued with stops at intermediate altitudes to let the body acclimate to the elevation changes. Once acclimated, you can function just as well as you do in routine life. At the final location, take a couple of days before you jump to full-fledged activities whether it is exercise, work or touring.

Food and Drinks

Drink plenty of water from at least a day before the trip and throughout too. Keeping your body well hydrated helps to cope up with all kinds of weather and environmental changes. Keep a tab on your alcohol intake. Even places like Las Vegas are at a relatively higher altitude. The weather in Las Vegas is dry and arid like a desert which means alcohol has more of a thump than usual. Eat potassium-rich foods like greens, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, broccoli, celery, bran, etc.


At higher altitudes, the body gets tired faster. The stamina has to be newly built as per the location. So go easy initially and slowly work your way to normal amount of activities. If you’ve relocated, it may take a few weeks before you’re able to work at the same energy level as before at a lower elevation.


High altitude cities such as Denver and many others in Colorado are also closer to the sun. Weather in Denver tends to significantly differ from season to season and even from day to night. Hence dressing in layers and packing a jacket is a good idea.

Look out for altitude sickness symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, etc. Take a recovery break or seek medical help if symptoms still persist.

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Coping with High Altitudes

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Coping with High Altitudes

This article was published on 2013/05/29
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