Visiting the mountains? How to adapt to altitude


Heading for the mountains for some skiing or snowboarding or snowshoeing? Good for you. It's great fun to get away, especially to the higher altitudes, but along with the pleasure can come some discomfort. It's called high-altitude sickness and it can happen to you if you're not prepared and sometimes, even if you are.

What could happen. It's too bad, but being fit is no protection against altitude sickness. What are the symptoms? They vary from person to person and from the merely annoying to the deadly serious. They include headache, nausea, fatigue, disturbed sleep and breathlessness during mild exercise. The symptoms are caused by decreased oxygen available to your body at higher altitudes. Some people are affected and others aren't. You won't know until you get there. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Take time to adapt. Don't be dumb enough to think you can fly to the slopes in the morning and be perky and high-performing by afternoon. You must give your body a chance to adapt. Take it really easy the first day or two and gradually increase your effort. Don't force yourself to do more than you can handle. If you feel tired, breathless and out of sorts, respect your body's message and slow down.

Drink lots of water. Cigarettes and booze can make you feel worse at high altitude, whereas drinking lots and lots of water will help you feel better. Drink, drink, drink, more water than you think you need.

Two more aids. There is a prescription medication called Diamox that can help prevent or lessen the symptoms of altitude sickness. It may or may not cause certain side effects, but presumably these are easier to tolerate than being laid low by altitude.

A natural product I have used with great results is called Oxy-Moxy, an oxygen enhancer that enables the lungs to put more oxygen into the bloodstream with every breath. You can read more about it at or call (800) 955-4633.

Remember: Being fit is no guarantee you won't get altitude sickness. If you do feel the symptoms, respect them. Slow down or go down to a lower altitude. If you ignore severe symptoms, you could die.


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