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How to Beat Altitude Sickness

Not long after setting up camp at a remote alpine lake, the ground began to look wavey under my feet and my head started pounding. Feeling as though I was succumbing to motion sickness, I closed my eyes and sat on the ground next to my tent while cradling my head in my hands.

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), had crept up on me again. As many of you may already know, ascending to high-altitudes means a decrease in oxygen pressure. Simply put, the uncomfortable effects of AMS surface during the body's adjustment to the new conditions.

Horribly uncomfortable, yet commonly experienced, there are a few things you can do to help prevent altitude sickness while recreating!

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is so important. We all know that.

I drank a couple liters of water during the hike up, but that may not have been enough. When recreating at higher altitudes, your body has to work much harder and that requires more water. A common rule of thumb is an extra liter or two at high altitudes!

Ladies, down that water and electrolyte mix because we want to feel our best in the mountains!

Acclimate Before Adventure

Taking a flight from the coast of Florida to the Rocky Mountains is quite a spike in altitude. Not everyone experiences AMS (YAY! I'm among the lucky chosen.), but you may want to give your body some time to acclimate to that thin mountain air before tackling any peaks.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol

Big nope... Après bevs will have to wait.

The best way to prevent altitude sickness is by being well-rested, hydrated, and properly fueled. You can say I'm no fun, but alcohol just doesn't jive with our goals today.

Use Bottled Oxygen

Before living in a mountain town, I didn't know bottled oxygen was used outside of rugged mountaineering expeditions. Imagine how foolish I felt when I finally realized that bottled oxygen was being sold at our town's gas station and grocery store!

Have you ever experienced altitude sickness? Where were you and what did you do?

Emily is a freelance travel and outdoor recreation writer for hire. Samples of her published work can be found at

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