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Preventing or Dealing with Altitude Sickness

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Altitude Sickness

Altitude Sickness or AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is caused by the rapid change in air pressure and lower oxygen levels at higher elevations. High altitude and lower air pressure can lead to fluid leakage from blood vessels, which leads to fluid buildup in your lungs and brain. Altitude sickness is common and can occur in half of the people who climb in elevations above 8,000 feet. Some people can also be more prone to getting Altitude sickness.


  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Headache

  • Confusion


  • Doing a high-altitude trip at more than 9,000 ft (2,750 m) for 2 nights or more, within 30 days before the trip, is useful.

  • Spend a night or two between 8,000–9,000 ft to acclimate before you start.

  • If you feel the effects of altitude sickness coming on, take it easy, reduce your pace, and rest more often.

Eat Appropriately:

  • High carbohydrate diets have been shown to alleviate acute altitude sickness symptoms and improve mood, performance, and oxygen saturation in the blood. This can include pasta, bread, fruits, and potato-based meals.

  • Foods rich in potassium are great for acclimating. Some good staples to eat include broccoli, bananas, avocado, cantaloupe, celery, greens, bran, chocolate, granola, dates, dried fruit, potatoes, and tomatoes.

  • Excess salt should be avoided. Too much salt will accelerate dehydration. Look for food and meals labeled with low salt.


  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration reduces your body’s ability to acclimate to new altitudes. Drink two to three liters daily starting a few days before your trip. Keep an extra liter of water on you during your ascent.

  • Do not drink any alcohol and avoid it for the first 48 hours of your trip. Alcohol is a depressant and can slow down your breathing rate and cause dehydration.

  • Avoid caffeinated products, such as energy drinks and sodas. Caffeine can lead to the dehydration of your muscles.

Supplements / Medication:

The only treatment for severe Altitude Sickness is to rapidly descend to lower elevations. The following items are only to treat symptoms of Altitude Sickness.

  • Be sure to use an Electrolyte mixture daily to replace the electrolytes lost.

  • Taking ibuprofen every 8 hours during your trip may also help prevent acute altitude sickness.

  • Ginkgo biloba has been shown to aid in the prevention of altitude sickness, by increasing the oxygen level in your blood. Start taking Ginkgo biloba a week before your trip and each day during.

  • Ginger is good for treating an upset stomach if you are experiencing nausea.

Symptoms should improve as you adjust to the altitude, usually within 24 hours. If your symptoms worsen, you should descend immediately. In some cases, you may need to seek medical help as soon as possible, severe cases of Altitude sickness can be life-threatening.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

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