ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Altitude Sickness: Feeling a Little Woozy?

Updated on February 21, 2014

Altitude Sickness

When you know you are going to go up into the mountains or heading up toward higher altitude, you might want to consider altitude sickness symptoms. Although altitude sickness is usually mild and your body eventually acclimates, it can turn out to be fatal depending on other health conditions you might have. You are also more likely to experience altitude sickness if you ascend to higher altitudes in a short period of time when driving over a mountain pass, arriving at a mountain resort, or hiking to a higher altitude.

Altitude sickness comes about because the amount of oxygen you inhale at higher elevations is less than at lower altitudes. Your body needs time to adjust to this. In addition, higher altitudes also result in lower air pressure. The first symptom you will likely feel is a headache. This can come on pretty soon after you ascend to higher altitudes. This is basically your body crying for oxygen.

Other symptoms that may crop up are:

  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rapid pulse or heart rate
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping

Typically, these symptoms don't last more than a couple of days before your body acclimates to the altitude.

In more severe cases, fluid can collect in the lungs causing extreme shortness of breath. More severe altitude sickness can also result in:

  • confusion
  • cough
  • chest congestion or chest tightness
  • decreased consciousness
  • inability to walk in a straight line

Some people have commented that having altitude sickness feels like having a hangover...


Altitude Sickness Treatment

The best thing to do if you think you are suffering from altitude sickness is to drink a large amount of water.  In fact, if you know you are going up into higher altitude, you might even want to chug a bottle of water before heading up. 

In order to get rid of the headache, any over-the-counter medication will work, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). 

Avoiding alcohol for the first day or so when in the mountains is also a good idea.  Also in the first couple days in high altitude, you might also consider limiting your exercise.  Rest helps.  Save the long hike for a few days into your trip or stay.

If symptoms do not go away, you may consider finding an oxygen chamber, seeing a doctor, or trying to find a way to get to lower altitude.  Ideally, you are not feeling altitude sickness symptoms for more than a day or two.  If you already suffer from lung diseases or have lung issues, you might reconsider your trip to the mountains and head to the beach instead where you will be at sea level. 

About Altitude Sickness

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 

      7 years ago

      I grew up in Colorado and spent most of my youth hiking through the mountains. That has been nearly 30 years ago. I recently went to visit family in Colorado and was SO excited to go back. I had never experienced altitude sickness, even when I lived in, and went skiing in the German Alps, for 6-years.

      Just being in the foot hills I got a horrible headache and nausea, I felt like I had the flu on top of a hangover. I drank lots of water, took Tylenol and Dramamine which helped a lot. The next day we went into the mountains. I didn't wait; I medicated myself and took several bottles of water.

      I presently live at/or near sea level and it never occurred to me that I would experience this.

      Good article.

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      gypsumgirl 

      8 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      Sally's Trove: I'm so sorry to hear that you didn't know about altitude sickness when you went to Tahoe. Tahoe is too beautiful of a place to be sick at especially if you only had 4 days there to begin with. Hopefully, your next visit to the high country will be more successful now that you know what you can do....Thank you for reading my hub.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 

      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I wish I had known about altitude sickness a few years back on a short vacation to Tahoe. The first 2 days were horrible. I thought I was coming down with the flu. Needless to say, my 4-day vacation was nearly ruined. Excellent information! Voted up and useful.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)