I live in Santa Cruz, Calif., and will be traveling to Breckenridge for a family ski trip in a couple months. Because I live just above sea level, I want to know the symptoms of altitude sickness and how much it is likely to affect me. Do you have any information about overcoming altitude sickness? Thanks!
-Julie, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Altitude sickness can occur when you travel to a height at least 8,000 feet higher than your starting point. That includes a number of places, such as Mexico City, Flagstaff, Ariz., and of course, the Rocky Mountains. The problem has to do with decreased oxygen levels and lowered pressure, which can lead to symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
If you’re traveling to elevations of more than 10,000 feet, it’s worth spending a day or two acclimating in a lower-altitude destination. Dehydration often occurs at high altitudes. It can significantly worsen your symptoms, so be sure to drink plenty of water and to limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Taking ginkgo biloba may also reduce the symptoms in some cases.
Enjoy the slopes!