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Autumn Altitude Sickness Prevention

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One of the reasons people buy real estate in Summit County, CO is that there are so many things to do and see…the activities are endless.  With high altitude fun and activity can come injury, unfortunately, which is why I’ve brough in guest blogger Jenn Birrer, DPT again.

My guest blogger Jenn has been living and working in Summit County for 2 years, and in Colorado for 8 years.  She specializes in sports medicine, manual therapy, treatment of the spine, and is certified in Pilates for fitness. 


Hi everyone! This is Jenn again and today I want to talk about altitude sickness, because it can affect so many different people.

Altitude sickness can be problem when you’re moving to Summit County, or for your time here when you return to your second home each year.  It can even affect those of you who are coming up to Summit County from Denver!

I moved from Denver 2 years ago, after having lived in CO and “high altitude” for my entire life, and still experienced altitude sickness! Although I have medical knowledge and experience, I was not prepared for the symptoms, and didn’t listen to my body so I was actually very sick for quite a while- and it was completely preventable.  After dealing with it myself, I don’t want anyone else to have to feel the effects of altitude sickness!

Altitude sickness can range from mild shortness of breath, to severe symptoms, and even death.  Many people don’t take attitude sickness seriously, but it is a real concern and you will be much more comfortable during your transition if you’re prepared

As with most problems, the best approach is prevention!

The following tips can help you minimize or even completely avoid the effects of altitude sickness:

  1. Stay hydrated!  Drink at least the daily-recommended 8 glasses of water, and increase water and electrolytes if you’re involved in physical activity.
  2. Listen to your body- if you feel tired, rest.  If you feel nauseated, rest.  If you’re thirsty, drink water.  Paying attention to the little things can stop altitude sickness before it progresses.
  3. Be realistic about your activity levels.  If you are coming from sea level, or even just from Denver, your body needs time to adjust.  Don’t expect to be able to participate in the same intensity of activity that you are able to at home.
  4. If able, give your body time to adapt.  Even a 24-hour adaptation period can help to lower the symptoms of altitude sickness.

The following are the symptoms of altitude sickness, which can vary from person to person:

  1. Lack of appetite
  2. Nausea or vomiting
  3. Fatigue or weakness, drowsiness
  4. Dizziness or lightheadedness
  5. Insomnia
  6. Shortness of breath with activity
  7. Nosebleed
  8. Increased heart rate
  9. Swelling of the hands, feet, or face

If these symptoms persist, or become severe, you should seek medical attention in order to help with treatment.

The symptoms of severe altitude sickness include the following:

  1. Pulmonary edema, which presents like bronchitis with a persistent dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath even at rest.
  2. Cerebral edema, which presents with a severe headache, unsteady gait or walking pattern, increased nausea, retinal hemorrhage, and slow loss of consciousness.

Signs of severe altitude sickness are emergency situation, and with the above symptoms medical help should be sought immediately!

Overall, with a little rest, hydration, and good preparation, the time you spend in your new home in Summit County can be a much more comfortable experience.  And remember when you return, the same issues can be a concern.  So pay attention to the signs and symptoms, listen to your body, and have fun out there!

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