Think you need to climb Mount Everest to experience altitude sickness? Think again.
The truth is that altitude sickness can strike anyone at any time. It occurs most often in elevations over 8,000 feet, but some people may experience symptoms at 5,000 feet (or even lower).
In Colorado altitude sickness is a common phenomenon. The base of Vail ski resort, for example, sits right at the threshold of 8,150 feet. Many of the best things to do in Vail (skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, etc.) may take you to elevations of 12,000 feet or higher.
How do you know if you’re experiencing altitude sickness? What can you do to treat and prevent it? We’ll answer those important questions and more, so keep reading!
Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the mildest form of altitude sickness. It can affect anyone ascending to a high elevation regardless of their age or physical condition.
The condition occurs because of reduced oxygen levels and barometric pressure at high elevations. If you ascend too quickly, your body may have difficulty adjusting. Symptoms of AMS include:
- Muscle aches
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
- Insomnia or restless sleep
- Reduced appetite
Most people compare altitude sickness to a hangover or severe jetlag. Symptoms generally appear around 12-24 hours after ascension and may last for a day or two.
How to Treat & Prevent Colorado Altitude Sickness
Although it’s impossible to predict exactly who will get altitude sickness (or when), there are steps you can take to minimize your chances.
The best way to prevent the condition is by acclimating slowly. For example, if you’re visiting Vail from sea level, spend a night in Denver after your flight arrives. A night at 5,000 feet will make the transition to 8,000 feet easier on your body.
What if you arrive in Vail and start experiencing symptoms of AMS? Here are some important steps to take to help your body make the transition.
- Drink plenty of water (four quarts or 128 ounces) to stay hydrated
- Avoid heavy physical exertion until your symptoms disappear
- Don’t smoke, vape, drink alcohol, or use sleeping pills
- Use OTC painkillers such as Tylenol or Advil to ease headache pain
- Sign up for a session of pure oxygen therapy to restore your oxygen levels
- Descend to a lower elevation for a night or two until your symptoms improve
If you’re prone to altitude sickness, you might want to talk to your doctor before your trip. There are several prescription medications available to reduce symptoms.
For most people, though, altitude sickness symptoms are mild and should disappear on their own within a few days. If you continue to struggle, the only guaranteed way to feel better is to descend to a lower elevation (below 5,000 feet).
Don’t Let High Altitude Sickness Get You Down
Hopefully you won’t experience a case of Colorado altitude sickness on your vacation. If you do, though, remember there are plenty of practical steps you can take to feel better.
As we mentioned above, oxygen therapy is a sure way to combat the effects of high elevations. At Apres Massage, you can enjoy our oxygen therapy add-on with any massage treatment.
Say goodbye to those headaches and other symptoms of altitude sickness. Call us today at 970-445-2114 to learn more about our oxygen therapy, massage treatments, and other spa services.