Preventions is KEY!
Altitude illness is usually preventable if ascent is slow. This is not possible for skiers who proceed directly to, and sleep at ski areas. Persons traveling above 8,000 feet (which includes Taos Ski Valley, Red River and Angel Fire) are most likely to be symptomatic. The chances increase to about 15% when sleeping above 8,000 feet. Being in excellent physical condition has no bearing on one’s ability to acclimate to altitude.
HOW TO ACCLIMATE?
Gradually increase elevation
Sleeping a night or two at a lower elevation will help speed the body’s acclimation process. (Albuquerque, Denver, Taos, Santa Fe)
Take it easy
Many skiers can not resist the urge to overdo it the first day or two only to ruin the rest of the week. Stop early when fatigued or any prolonged breathlessness.
High Carbohydrate Diet
Increase carbohydrate intake (pasta, rice, pancakes) to 70% of total calories. This means reducing fat intake.
Avoid Alcohol, Tranquilizers and Sleeping Pills the first two nights.
All of these things slow down your body’s adjustment to elevation. This is critical if you exhibit any of the symptoms below.
Symptoms worse after a second night sleeping at altitude will benefit from medication to speed acclimatization and prevent illness.
Take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for headache. Benadryl for nausea. Avoid all alcohol.
Mild symptoms are indistinguishable from hangover.
- Insomnia (first symptom of poor acclimation is trouble sleeping)
- Loss of morning appetite (2nd most common early symptom)
- Run down feeling
- Shortness of breath with exertion
If moderate symptoms occur seek medical care. Balance difficulty is a highly predictive serious progression of illness. See physician immediately!
- Headache not relieved by Tylenol/aspirin
- Raspy Cough
- Balance/coordination problem
Seek medical help immediately!
- Wet Cough with pink frothy phlegm
- Disoriented “leave me alone”
- Too weak to eat or get up
- Lips or fingernails blue in color