Avoiding Altitude Sickness

altitude_sickness-273x300Altitude sickness is defined as an “illness caused by ascent to a high altitude and the resulting shortage of oxygen, characterized chiefly by hyperventilation, nausea, exhaustion and cerebral edema.” (so says google) Typically, one suffering from altitude sickness experiences headaches, a loss of appetite, and sleeping difficulties. It’s a serious condition and if it persists the best way to treat it is to descend to a lower altitude.

[Photo Credit: http://www.kiliadventures.com/uncategorized/you-know-altitude-sickness/]

The best thing to remember when you are in higher altitudes, such as Crested Butte (8,885 feet), is to drink lots of water and take it easy . . . and drink more water. If you’re like me, you love your coffee in the morning. Coffee in high altitudes is bad (alcohol is even worse). It’s dehydrating and can exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness. Instead, make sure you drink a couple of glasses of water for every cup of coffee you have and try to limit the amount of coffee you drink.

The one time I really suffered from altitude sickness I felt like I had strep throat and wanted to die – it was awful. Since then, I’ve always loaded up on water on the way up there, took it easy the first few days, and continued to drink a ton of water throughout the trip there. Even during this past trip I started feeling funky by the end of it because of my allergies – the dry air was working a number on me. (Being from Dallas, elevation plus dryness equals quite an adjustment.)

Crested Butte now offers an oxygen bar called Sea Level Spa where you can purchase concentrated oxygen to assist with alleviating the symptoms of altitude sickness.

The bottom line is this-altitude sickness sucks and you should do anything you can to avoid it or alleviate the symptoms if they start coming on. Before heading up to CB (or any place at a higher elevation) check with your doctor and see what medicinal options are available to you.

Lastly, I need to make this disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Nothing in this post should be construed as medical advice – the only advice I’ll give you is to see a doctor if you think you are suffering from altitude sickness. Good luck!

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