Altitude sickness is a common occurrence among hikers. However, it is not only hikers that can get altitude sickness, and it is a big concern for athletes who need to compete at higher altitudes than they are accustomed to. Whatever your reason for researching remedies for altitude sickness is, look no further. This article discusses how to prevent altitude sickness naturally.
There are various methods to prevent altitude sickness naturally, such as acclimating before starting to hike and drinking enough water. In addition, there are also certain natural medicines one can take to combat the effects of altitude sickness, such as ginkgo root and maca powder.
While there are some prescription medicines you can take to prevent altitude sickness, they aren’t always effective and don’t help to cure you once you have developed symptoms of altitude sickness. As always, prevention is better than cure. By following the steps below, you will decrease the chances of developing acute altitude sickness.
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Preventing Altitude Sickness Naturally
While it is impossible to guarantee a 100% chance of success, following the steps below will help to minimize your chances of getting altitude sickness, or make your altitude sickness less acute. There are factors that contribute to your likeliness of getting altitude sickness, but experts say that it can happen to anyone. This is how to prevent altitude sickness naturally.
Step 1: Acclimate Before You Start Hiking
Before you start ascending a mountain or competing in an activity, take some time to get used to the higher elevation you’re at. This is especially true if you are from a coastal town or an area at a much lower sea level than you are going to. Altitude sickness can appear anywhere from 8,000 feet and upwards.
However, your body will adjust to the higher elevation and change in air pressure in about three days. Therefore, if you head to your destination in advance and give your body some time to adjust, you will do far better on the hike or activity, and the chances of suddenly developing altitude sickness decreases.
Step 2: Drink More Water To Prevent Altitude Sickness
Whenever your body experiences stress or changes, such as altitude changes, it requires more hydration. So increase your water intake to keep your body functioning optimally and combat the symptoms of altitude sickness.
In addition to a change in elevation, the humidity is also lower at higher altitudes. This leads to your body losing more fluids through perspiration. However, you won’t necessarily realize it because you won’t feel as sweaty.
Regardless, you should still always be hydrated when doing an activity at higher altitudes to prevent altitude sickness and stay healthy.
Step 3: Avoid Alcohol And High Sodium Foods
Alcohol not only causes you to become dehydrated, but alcohol has similar symptoms as altitude sickness, such as feeling dizzy or nauseous. Therefore, don’t consume alcohol while your body is adjusting to the new elevation. If you wish to drink alcohol while on a hike, do so at lower altitudes or after acclimating.
Sodium or high-sodium foods also dehydrate your body, leading to more acute altitude sickness. Therefore, eat fresh food when possible or dried fruit and bars containing less sodium or aren’t as processed.
Eating more carbs will also give your body the energy it needs to do the required activities and fight off the symptoms of altitude sickness.
Step 4: Climb Slowly To Allow For Acclimation
When you start hiking, do so slowly to allow your body to gradually adjust to the increased altitude and avoid getting altitude sickness. Experts recommend trying to climb no more than 1,000 feet elevation per day and taking a rest day after climbing 3,000 feet.
Doing so will enable your body to adjust to the higher elevations and prevent you from getting altitude sickness. In addition, climbing at a slower pace will enable you to monitor your health closely, allowing you to detect early symptoms of altitude sickness and take a rest when you need to.
Step 5: Sleep At A Lower Elevation Than You Climb To
While this might not be practical for a multi-day hike where you are trying to reach a summit, sleeping at a lower elevation is a great way to combat altitude sickness, as you are more prone to develop symptoms such as headaches and nausea while sleeping.
However, if descending to a lower altitude for sleeping is not possible, be sure to climb slowly and don’t climb more than 1,000 feet elevation per day. Take a break whenever you feel dizzy or have a headache and drink plenty of water before bed.
Step 6: Practice Proper Breathing Techniques
This is something you should practice before a high altitude hike. Proper breathing techniques will allow you to breathe more evenly and absorb more oxygen when you reach higher altitudes with less available oxygen. In addition, breathing steadily will help you in high-stress situations and prevent shortness of breath.
Doing some yoga breathing techniques is a great way to ensure you breathe evenly and efficiently. It will also help to keep you calm and focused. In addition, an increase in the oxygen you have access to when breathing correctly will help prevent altitude sickness.
Step 7: Natural Medicine To Prevent Altitude Sickness
As we have mentioned before, there are some prescription medications you can take to combat the symptoms of altitude sickness. However, there are also natural remedies that natives to these high altitudes have been taking for many years to prevent altitude sickness.
These foods and herbs work by relaxing the blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow that delivers more oxygen to the body. As the lower oxygen levels are what trigger altitude sickness, it’s rational to try some of these remedies to prevent altitude sickness. So here are some foods used to fight altitude sickness.
- Antioxidant supplements
- Gingko Biloba
- Beetroot juice
- Maca root powder
- Coca leaves
While you might not easily be able to find all these foods, you should be able to buy some of them at a health food store. Read the instructions for how to take these foods carefully. Keep in mind that these remedies should be used to prevent altitude sickness and will likely not help when you already have symptoms of altitude sickness.
Step 8: Treating Altitude Sickness
Suppose all the preventative measures fail to keep altitude sickness away. In that case, you might want to know how to treat altitude sickness. Fortunately, your body should adjust to the altitude within a few days. Therefore, if you feel ill, take a rest day or two and allow your body to adjust to the altitude. Then, when you feel better, you can continue climbing at a slow pace.
However, if you develop acute altitude sickness and have trouble breathing or feel disorientated, descend to a lower level as soon as possible and don’t continue climbing. In some cases, oxygen must be administered, and you should seek medical help as soon as possible.
There are many ways to prevent getting altitude sickness. Although none of these tips can guarantee that you won’t get altitude sickness, they will decrease your chances of developing acute altitude sickness. The most important thing is to climb slowly and drink plenty of water. This will give your body time to adjust to the altitude.