Visitors from lower elevations often underestimate the effects of altitude on their health and physical abilities. Don’t let anything you hear about the high altitude scare you. The air is just thinner and drier. Follow these simple tips and you will very likely not even notice the difference.
Before your trip, and while you are here, drinking plenty of water is the number one way to help your body adjust to higher altitude. You need about twice as much water here as you would drink at home.
MONITOR YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE
Alcoholic drinks pack more of a wallop than at sea level. It is recommended that you go easy on the alcohol in the mountains, as its effects will feel stronger here.
EAT FOODS HIGH IN POTASSIUM
Foods such as broccoli, bananas, avocado, cantaloupe, celery, greens, bran, chocolate, granola, dates, dried fruit, potatoes and tomatoes will help you replenish electrolytes by balancing salt intake.
WATCH YOUR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
The effects of exercise are more intense here.
PACK FOR SUN
With less water vapor in the air at altitude, the sky really is bluer in Colorado. But there's 25 percent less protection from the sun, so sunscreen is a must. We receive over 300 days of sunshine each year. Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm, and a hat.
DRESS IN LAYERS
It is best to layer your clothing.
With high altitude living, the body gradually acclimatizes to the lower air pressure and decreased oxygen. Until that occurs, generally 1-3 days, high altitude can give rise to a variety of unpleasant symptoms characteristic of altitude sickness. The symptoms include nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, headache, swelling in the feet, fatigue, sleep problems and breathing difficulties. To bypass these symptoms drink water to avoid dehydration and consume less alcohol and caffeine. Also, avoid heavy exercise initially to allow the body time to make the physiologic changes needed to function properly.
At sea level the oxygen-carrying component of blood, hemoglobin, is about 98% saturated with oxygen. As altitude increases, this decreases the saturation to about 90-92% at 8,000ft. In effect, less oxygen passes from the lungs to the blood.