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Why Only Some People Experience High Altitude Sickness

Andrew in Colorado, Summer 2011

Hi! Greetings from Breckenridge, Colorado. At 10,000 feet, I am told it is the highest resort town in North America. The Rocky Mountain scenery is breathtaking. But there’s a problem for about one in four of us who visit here, especially people like me who live at sea level. We can get hit with high altitude sickness and a few days ago, I was one of the unlucky ones.

What happens is your body isn’t used to the thin air and your blood has difficulty getting enough oxygen to your body. It usually happens at altitudes over 8,500 feet. You get an ongoing headache, you feel tired, you have insomnia (I was sleepless for two nights!), you could have nausea and certainly fatigue. Drinking lots of water and passing up alcohol can help, but even then some people have problems.

When I finally saw a family doctor – Doctor P.J. – he told me it’s genetic. Some people have trouble “acclimatizing” and others don’t, but there’s no easy way to know who will be affected before you make the climb. Now that I know I have difficulty I will take a prescription medicine (Diamox) ahead of coming up here again.

Doctor P.J. says even Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

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