Altitude Sickness: Symptoms, Prevention, and More

foothills mountain rangeFor some, altitude sickness may seem like a made-up excuse they hear when someone wants to skip the day’s events. In reality, altitude sickness can be a very uncomfortable, serious condition. Altitude sickness affects everyone differently (and doesn’t affect some at all). If you’re one of the unfortunate ones to be ailed by this plight, it could help ruin your ski vacation. Learn about the signs of altitude sickness and how to prevent and treat it.

What is it?

Altitude sickness primarily occurs when a person travels to a destination with a higher elevation than their body is used to. Higher elevations have thinner air and lower air pressure. If the body does not properly acclimate to the gain in elevation, it may have difficulty retrieving the appropriate amount of oxygen through the blood stream.


The main symptoms of altitude sickness are headaches, nausea, dizziness, lethargy, and trouble sleeping, but the combination and severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the person. There is no rhyme or reason as to who will experience altitude sickness and what symptoms they will feel. Even professional athletes can suffer from altitude sickness. Most forms are mild.

Prevention and Treatment

There are three main things you can do to prevent altitude sickness from ruining your vacation.

Adjust Slowly

It’s best to let your body acclimate to higher elevations slowly. For example, if you are arriving from a low elevation and traveling to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it’s ideal to spend a few days in Denver first to start the adjustment phase of the elevation gain. If that is not an option, try to take a day or two to relax and adjust before hitting the slopes once you reach your destination.

Stay Hydrated

Staying well hydrated is vital when traveling to higher elevations. Be sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day, more if active.

Seek oxygen

Many mountain resort towns now have oxygen bars. These bars are just as they sound-bars where you can receive direct oxygen to help with acclimation to the thinner, lower pressured oxygen levels in the air.

If symptoms persist or intensify, it’s best to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

With the busy holiday travel season, it’s important to take care of your bodies so you can have the best trip possible! Hopefully, this information helps provide for a wonderful holiday vacation with the family. From all of us here at WinterWomen, have a wonderful holiday season!

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Bailey Valian

Bailey was born and raised in a small Colorado mountain town called Crested Butte. This is where her love for the outdoors started. She has now found herself in Denver, CO where the mountains aren't too far away. When she's not hiking, camping or skiing in the mountains she enjoys traveling, volunteering, going to sporting events (Go Broncos and Avs!) and making friends with any animal she meets.

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One Response to “Altitude Sickness: Symptoms, Prevention, and More”

  1. Cindy January 18, 2017 at 10:34 am #

    Thanks for the tips/reminders. More people should pay atttention.

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