Prevention is Key

Altitude illness is usually preventable if ascent is slow. Persons traveling above 8,000 feet are most likely to be symptomatic. The chances increase to about 15% when sleeping above 8,000 feet. Being in excellent physical condition has no bearing on one's ability to acclimate to altitude.

How Can You Improve Acclimation to Altitude

Sleeping a night or two at a lower elevation will help the body's process of acclimatizing.

Take It Easy

Resist the urge to overdo it the first day or two. Stop early when you start to feel fatigue or any prolonged breathlessness.

High Carbohydrate Diet

Increase carbohydrate intake (pasta, rice,pancakes) to 70% of total calories. This means reducing fat intake.

Avoid Alcohol, Tranquilizers & Sleeping Pills

The first two nights, all of these things slow your body's adjustment to elevation. This is critical if you exhibit any of the symptoms below.


There is prescription medication which helps prevent illness and speeds acclimation

Symptoms of Altitude Illness


Headache; rundown feeling; nausea; shortness of breath with exertion; poor appetite

Mild symptoms are indistinguishable from a hangover. Take Tylenol or apsirin for headache. Benadryl for nausea. Avoid all alcohol.


Weakness; headache not relieved by Tylenol/aspirin, vomiting, raspy cough; balance/coordination problem*

If moderate symptoms occur seek medical care.

*Balance difficulty is highly predictive of serious progression of illness. See physician immediately.


Wet cough; shortness of breath at rest; disoriented, "leave me alone...;" too weak to eat or get up; lips or fingernails blue in color

Seek medical help immediately; dial 911.



Altitude Sickness - Wikipedia

Traveler's Health - CDC

Altitude Illness - emedicine from WebMD

Revised November 29, 2011