Altitude sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), occurs when a person's body is struggling to adapt to high altitude (which is typically caused by thinner air above 7,500 feet). Preventing AMS is extremely important because it's difficult to treat once you have it. People who are more at risk for developing altitude sickness are:
People traveling to elevations above 5,000 feet, from sea level
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
SYMPTOMS OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Symptoms are diverse, but unmistakable. They can range from very mild to life threatening. Mild symptoms include:
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! Alcohol will dehydrate you rapidly, and this is the last thing you want!
More severe altitude sickness symptoms require immediate medical treatment, and getting to a lower elevation as soon as possible. These 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.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS
You’re at greater risk for acute mountain sickness the higher you go, and the faster you ascend. 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 by dehydrating you.
Stay hydrated with something other than water. We really like Electrolye Energy Formula and use it when we leave our 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.