Altitude Sickness: Remedy for Skiers

Some of America’s best ski resorts are located in particularly high altitudes. Indeed, it only makes sense that in order to have fresh snow, slopes must be at a certain elevation. But, with that comes the much feared elevation sickness. That’s why, in this article we will go over some of the most common symptoms as well as what is the best altitude sickness remedy.

Why does altitude sickness happen?

Mountain sickness or elevation sickness happens when the barometric pressure in the air drops as a consequence to going to higher altitudes. What this means is, that the higher you are from sea level, the lesser the oxygen available in the air.
People who live in high altitudes such as Cusco, in Peru; or Leadville, in Colorado, are already used to living at a high elevation and hence their bodies are accustomed to the lower air pressure.
Most people, however, live in altitudes closer to sea level (0) and when traveling to ski resorts or other natural parks with higher altitudes may quickly feel the consequences of change in air pressure. Normally speaking, altitude sickness symptoms may appear at any altitude higher than 8,000 feet.

What are some of the most common symptoms?

While symptoms may very from person to person, these are the most common ones:
  • Nausea/Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
Symptoms tend to appear within 12 to 24 hours of being exposed to high altitudes, and get better as you get accustomed to the new elevation. If they persist even after two days, you should always consult with a professional to provide you with medicine.
Normally speaking, people tend to feel altitude sickness in the following circumstances:
  • When there is a rapid ascend to higher altitudes. (i.e.: When you land in a place with higher elevation such as Cusco, in Peru).
  • If you live in a place located close to the sea or with lower elevation than 3,000 feet.
  • People who are over the age of 50 or have shown symptoms in the past.

Altitude sickness remedy: Prevention in the best cure

As stated above, people tend to feel altitude sickness when they land at a location with a significant higher elevation. That’s why, it’s beneficial to ascend gradually to ski resorts when traveling. If it’s an option, it might be better for you to drive to the destination rather than flying in. This will allow to you get accustomed to the new elevation more easily.
Additionally, you may want to consider looking for hotels or accommodation that are located in a lower elevation. You may spend the day at the ski resort, and then descend to your hotel to sleep as lowering your altitude by 1,000 to 2,000 feet can help you relieve the symptoms until you get adjusted.
It’s important to stay hydrated while being at a high elevation. Drink plenty of water to help prevent altitude sickness, and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. Alcohol may increase the symptoms. Just as staying hydrated is important, so is eating appropriately. Do not skip meals and try to eat diets that are high in carbohydrates while you stay in high altitudes. These include pastas, bread and meals based on potatoes.
Lastly, if you’ve suffered from altitude sickness in the past and are familiar with the symptoms, a way to prevent it is buying medicine such as Diamox. While most commonly known to treat glaucoma, it also helps with altitude sickness. Speak to your doctor before taking any medication, and be sure to take the suggested doses 24 hours before you arrive at the high elevation destination.
While this is a recommended altitude sickness remedy, always check with your doctor before visiting a destination that is located at an elevation higher than 8,000.
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