Altitude sickness… you definitely can say we go way back. I’ve had it in every form from mild to severe, and even while pregnant. I love vacationing in the Rocky Mountains, but the beginning of every trip used to be miserable for me. I’m so sensitive to altitude changes that I’ve felt altitude sickness in places just slightly higher in elevation like Las Vegas and sometimes even the Texas Panhandle, it’s crazy! If you suffer you’re definitely not alone. Many of you know we recently had a few trips to Estes Park, and the last few visits were the best I’ve ever felt because these tips really work for me.
I’ve never taken altitude sickness medication, but one day I was talking with a very helpful pharmacist. He told me his family would get really sick going to Winter Park, Colorado. Yeah… I’ve been really sick up there too, along with Vail and Pikes Peak. Not fun! He shared a few tips that I had no idea about, and they really do work! So here are my 7 recommended tips to help beat altitude sickness.
CLIMB SLOWLY IN ELEVATION AND LET YOUR BODY ACCLIMATE
We normally drive 12 long hours to our favorite mountain spot, you couldn’t pay me to fly up there. Once we briefly had to switch flights at the Denver airport and sure enough in that short time I felt sick. If you suffer from altitude sickness it’s crucial to climb in altitude slowly. Driving instead of flying is a good way to acclimate as well as spending the night at a mid range altitude on the way. It’s always recommended to stay a night in Estes Park before ascending high into Rocky Mountain National Park. Time is what you need, so don’t rush if you want to feel your best.
WATER IS CRUCIAL
You knew I had to throw this in right? Water seems to be the magic cure for everything, including altitude sickness. Hydration is everything up in the mountains and drinking at least 2 liters of water a day is crucial to feeling good. I recommend more if you’re going to be very active or drinking alcohol. Any water will work but I’ve noticed Smartwater with the electrolytes makes me feel amazing, and with it being sold in 1 liter bottles it’s easy to keep track of your water intake. Keep water on you at all times, the thirsties can creep up really quickly!
NO CARBONATION 3 DAYS BEFORE AND DURING YOUR TRIP
This trick I learned from a helpful pharmacist and I’m stunned how well it works. Nothing carbonated at all at least 3 days before and also during your trip. Skip all the soda pop & fizzy drinks, the goal is to reduce CO2 from your bloodstream. Being a huge champagne, prosecco, and sparkling water drinker, this is a total bummer! Spending New Years in the mountains and not having any bubbly was sad, but hey… I felt good so it was a good trade off.
LOAD UP ON VITAMIN C
I’ve never tried Altitude Rx, but at $35 a bottle I say try cheap vitamin C tablets first. This was another pharmacist tip, starting a few days before and during my trip I make sure to increase my vitamin C. I always pack loads of vitamin C, and if I happen to forget it I’ll stop and get some on the way. Brian and the kids aren’t as sensitive to the altitude as I am, but this vitamin trick has even helped them.
You can drink at a high altitude, you really need to be careful though. You need to limit it, especially in the first day or two. Make sure you’re properly hydrated and you’ve acclimated to the altitude first. Alcohol hits you harder at high altitudes, so don’t overdo it! Any time you feel symptoms of altitude sickness stay clear of alcohol though. Don’t even consider drinking alcohol if you haven’t had at least 2 liters of water a day – that’s the minimum.
WATCH FOOD SENSITIVITIES
If you have food sensitivities I can promise you they’ll be worse at a high altitude. Don’t ask me why that’s just the way it is. I’m sensitive to gluten, I don’t have celiac and I can get away with eating it, I just don’t always like how I feel and I get side effects. When it’s a holiday or celebration I can push through the side effects but at high altitude? Forget about it, I won’t touch it. Food sensitivities seem magnified at high altitude. So keep that in mind!
TAKE IT EASY AT FIRST
High altitude usually means activity of some kind, and it’s best to let your body adapt and take it easy the first day or two when possible. Recently we took a quick trip up to the mountains, I decided to go exploring and jogged up a steep hill. Within minutes I was dizzy, unable to talk and starting to feel unwell. This is where as cheesy as it sounds a can of oxygen can help. Almost immediately I started to feel better. When resting and acclimating isn’t an option before strenuous activity, consider keeping a can of oxygen nearby.
Clearly I am not in the medical field, but as I mentioned above with the helpful advice of a pharmacist and through my own trial and error I’ve found these tips to be extremely helpful and to drastically if not eliminate my altitude sickness. Of course what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. Hopefully these tips can help you on your journey, best of luck! If you discover any helpful tips leave them in the comments below!