Living in places at high altitudes offers many advantages, such as spectacular mountain views, less pollution and closeness to nature. There are also plenty of things to do year-round, making mountainous states like Utah, Colorado and Wyoming a popular destination for travelers and athletes.
However, visiting and living at high altitudes also has its disadvantages. One of these is altitude sickness.
The symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, tiredness, shortness of breath and loss of appetite. They are often worse at night, making it difficult to get quality sleep.
Travelers from low altitude areas and hikers are particularly prone to this condition, especially if they do not give their bodies enough time to adjust to the changes in air pressure and oxygen levels. However, even those who have been living in mountainous places for years may experience altitude sickness.
Fortunately, some natural remedies for altitude sickness may help reduce the severity of symptoms and make time spent in the mountains as pleasant as it should be. If you are looking for prevention tips or the best natural cure for altitude sickness, the list below is an excellent place to start.
Altitude Sickness Prevention Natural Remedies
As they say, prevention is better than cure. Here are some ways to help with altitude sickness prevention using natural remedies.
If possible, avoid flying directly to places at high altitudes, and when you get there, rest for one or two days before you try going above 8,000 feet.
This tip is helpful not just for mountain climbers or hikers but also for tourists traveling to popular mountain destinations like Taos, NM (9,321 ft), Vail, CO (8,150 ft) and Alta, UT (8,560 ft). It can also help residents returning home to acclimatize after spending long periods at lower altitudes.
For instance, if you are traveling to Vail from California, do not go there directly. Instead, spend a couple of days in Denver (5,279 ft) or Colorado Springs (6,035 ft) first to get used to the changes in oxygen levels and air pressure. Avoid strenuous exercise to allow your body to adjust.
Dehydration can mimic or worsen the symptoms of altitude sickness. That is why one of the most recommended altitude sickness prevention natural remedies is to stay hydrated.
Before your trip and while you are there, be sure to drink plenty of water—about 12 to 16 glasses per day. A quick way to check if you are hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. If it is light yellow, then you are likely drinking enough water.
If possible, avoid or limit your consumption of diuretics or substances that promote increased urination. Some examples are coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages.
Altitude Sickness Natural Remedies
Physicians often prescribe medicines such as acetazolamide to treat altitude sickness. You can also take over-the-counter drugs like paracetamol and ibuprofen to relieve headaches caused by the condition. However, contrary to popular belief, there are other ways to address symptoms. Here are some altitude sickness natural remedies you can try if you would prefer not to take medication.
Snack on Walnuts
Walnuts and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and fortified eggs, have known anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, upping your intake may help reduce the severity and frequency of headaches associated with altitude sickness.
Eat More Carbohydrates
Research suggests that the body burns up more carbohydrates at high altitudes. Therefore, increasing your carbohydrate intake provides you with the energy you need to acclimatize to and function at high altitudes as well as prevent fatigue.
Complex carbohydrates are ideal if you are visiting or living at a high altitude, as they take more time to burn and provide lasting energy. Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole oats and quinoa.
For hikes, simple carbohydrates are preferable, as they are less likely to cause an upset stomach and are a great source of quick fuel. Some simple carb snacks you can take on your hike are fruit juices, energy drinks, energy bars and candy.
Drink Beet Juice
Studies have showed that being at high altitudes causes blood vessels constrict, impairing blood flow and delivery of oxygen to tissues in a condition called hypoxia. This results in the dizziness and exhaustion found in cases of altitude sickness as well as shortness of breath, rapid breathing and wheezing.
Research has found that drinking beet juice may help. Beet juice is rich in nitrate, a substance that the body converts to nitric oxide. This molecule causes blood vessels to relax, improving circulation and allowing oxygen-rich blood to travel to all parts of the body efficiently.
However, it may not be the ideal natural cure for altitude sickness in individuals prone to kidney stones. It contains oxalates, which contribute to stone formation.
Since hypoxia and altitude sickness are both caused by low oxygen levels, increasing oxygen is clearly the most effective of the natural remedies for altitude sickness and hypoxia. Experts say that the best cure for altitude sickness is simply to descend to a lower place with more oxygen in the air. However, that’s not always possible.
For instance, you may prefer living in the mountains or training at a high altitude to improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Treatment with supplemental oxygen is often used in these types of scenarios.
Conventional oxygenation at high altitudes is achieved using oxygen tanks, concentrators and cylinders. However, wearing a cannula for long periods is uncomfortable, oxygen tanks are bulky and cylinders do not contain enough oxygen for prolonged use.
A better option is oxygen supplementation through an altitude control system. It’s designed to simulate lower altitudes in indoor spaces, providing you with the same amount of oxygen you would breathe if you were at sea level.
Breathe Easier With Altitude Control Technology
Altitude Control Technology (ACT) offers whole-room oxygenation systems that eliminate the need for tanks and cannulas. Unlike other systems that do not add enough oxygen to indoor air, ACT’s altitude control systems can reduce the effective altitude by up to 7,000 feet.
Our group of experts in altitude physiology guides the design and function of our products to help ensure we live up to our company’s tagline: The safest, most effective oxygenation systems on the planet. ™ To learn more or request a proposal, call 970-528-1300.