I am planning a trip to a high elevation, and I am worried about getting altitude sickness again. Any suggestions on how to prevent or treat this problem?
There is an absolute immediate cure for altitude sickness, and that is “come down.” That’s probably not much help, given that you may have plans that you don’t want to change. It is good to know, though, that if all else fails, you can always descend and feel better.
As you are no doubt aware, the symptoms of altitude sickness (also called mountain sickness) can be very uncomfortable. They may include headache, sleeplessness, nausea, shortness of breath, and more. One form of altitude sickness, acute mountain sickness, can be severe and life-threatening.
Whether you can prevent mountain sickness depends on how high you are going and for how long. Assuming your excursion is not scaling Mount Everest, there are a number of things you can try.
Ascend slowly. Taking two or three days to get to your destination will give your body time to adjust to the differences in atmospheric pressure and oxygen. If that is not practical for you, can you descend to below 8,000 feet to sleep at night, or at least for a few hours each day?
Take it slow and easy for the first few days you are up there. Drink lots and lots of water and other fluids, but limit beverages with caffeine or alcohol. You can take something like aspirin or acetaminophen for headache, but don’t take anything like sleeping pills. You may also want to ask your doctor about a medication called Diamox that helps prevent altitude sickness.