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How to prevent Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a real concern when considering destinations. No one wants to spend their vacation time sidelined and feeling dreadful. With many amazing mountain destinations on my list, I have learned some techniques that help this sea-level-living gal enjoy every moment of my travels in high elevations. When I travelled to Peru, I was concerned about my body's ability to adjust to the higher elevations of Cusco and the Sacred Valley regions. Having travelled a fair amount within British Columbia, I was very aware that a low-grade altitude headache was fairly common my first day in the mountains or after a day of skiing. Altitude sickness, or soroche, happens when your body doesn't get enough oxygen from the air at high altitudes. It's more likely to happen when people travel quickly from lower altitudes to 2,400 m (8000 ft) or higher.

I'm older, I live at sea level, and I have asthma. Everything that I was reading online suggested that the potential for me to suffer was great. I decided to seek advice from the doctors and staff at Vancouver Travel Medicine and Vaccination Clinic.

Altitude sickness is unpredictable. It can affect fit and unfit people, young or old, male or female. Symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, dizziness, vomiting, and general brain fog. These symptoms may be mild or quite severe.

Some people may be like me: I adjusted very well the first time I arrived in Cusco but the next time, I suffered horribly. For most people, symptoms will dissipate within days as your body adjusts. In rare instances, when symptoms do not improve, or signs of blueness appear around fingertips and lips, proper medical advice must be sought.

As with many things in life, there is no one surefire method to solving this problem and to avoid suffering the worst effects of soroche. Instead, the best advice requires layering both prevention and treatment options.