High Altitude Illness

Even Coloradans may experience the effects of higher altitudes

Low oxygen levels at high altitudes can cause problems

Whether you and your children are enjoying the mountains for a day or visiting from out of state, don’t let altitude illness spoil your fun. Here are some tips to keep everyone feeling great while spending time outdoors.

What visitors from lower altitudes needs to know

  • Inadequate acclimatization may lead to altitude illness especially when traveling to 8,000 ft. or higher
  • Acclimation takes three to five days
  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) is the primary concern.

Common symptoms

  • Fussy behavior in pre-verbal children
  • Headache (onset usually 2-13 hours after arrival at a higher altitude
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Occasionally vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased breathlessness with exertion, associated with weakness and cough

Preventing altitude illness:

  • Know the early symptoms.
  • Drink lots of water to help your body adjust to higher altitude.
  • Never sleep at a higher altitude when experiencing symptoms of altitude illness, no matter how minor they seem.
  • Travel to lower altitude if the symptoms become worse while resting at the same altitude.
  • Avoid alcohol for the first 48 hours.
  • Participate in only mild exercise for the first 48 hours.
  • Take over-the-counter headache medication if necessary. Be mindful of proper doses for children.

Preexisting medical conditions

People with preexisting medical conditions should talk with a doctor before traveling to high altitudes, especially pregnant women. Children with heart, lung conditions or diabetes should be watched closely.

Rocky Mountain Hospital For Children