Altitude Sickness Prevention, Naturally
Altitude sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), occurs when a person’s body is struggling to adapt to high altitude. Preventing AMS is extremely important because it's difficult to treat once you have it.
Symptoms of AMS
AMS is caused by thinner air at altitude (which is typically above 7,500 feet. Symptoms are diverse, but unmistakable. They can range from very mild to life threatening. Mild symptoms include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- General unease
Many people liken altitude sickness to feeling ‘hung over’ from alcohol. This is why it’s always a good idea to take it easy on the booze when vacationing at high altitude.
More severe altitude sickness symptoms that require immediate medical treatment and getting to a lower elevation include:
- Shortness of breath
- Elevated blood pressure
Prevention is the best medicine for altitude sickness. Resting, staying hydrated and going slower once you arrive are key.
Who’s at risk?
- People traveling to elevations above 5000 feet.
- People who have had altitude sickness in the past.
- Athletes who want to perform their best at altitude.
- People who are more fatigued at altitude.
- People who feel ‘hung over’ at altitude.
- People that are prone to dehydration.
Prevention & Treatment
You’re at greater risk for AMS the higher you go, and the faster you climb.
Here are a few easy ways to prevent altitude sickness:
- Stay overnight at an elevation that is half or three quarters of your final destination altitude to let your body adapt.
- Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption. It will just make your elevation sickness worse.
- Stay hydrated with something other than water. We really like Acli-Mate Mountain Sport Drink and use it when we leave home (5,200 feet) and go up to the mountains around 9,500-10,000 feet.
- Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it will help your body utilize its energy more effectively. Rhodiola has been shown to improve performance at altitude.
- A combination of Corvalen (D-Ribose), L-Carnitine, and CoEnzyme Q10 can boost energy and production of ATP (energy) within the cells.
- Energy Formula is a complete multivitamin & mineral sports drink with natural energy boosters and electrolytes.
- Gingko biloba is a botanical medicine with proven performance benefits at altitude.
- Cordyceps Sinensis is another botanical medicine that works well with rhodiola to improve energy production.
Any combination of the above will help you adapt to, and feel better when you go up to play at altitude. Give them a try, it beats feeling hung over from the altitude!
Here is some more reading about the benefits of training at altitude.