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Photo Credit: Boulder Photo’s Photography – James BO Insogna

Whether you are from out-of-town planning a trip to beautiful Boulder County, you have family and friends coming into town, or you are a native, protecting yourself from altitude sickness is a must! Here are five tips to avoid getting sick while enjoying Colorado’s beautiful outdoors.

  1. Get Acclimated. If you live at a lower altitude, it is best to avoid strenuous activity the first day or two after you arrive. Your body needs time to get used to the oxygen deficiency that comes with the higher altitude.
  2. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Because of Colorado’s arid climate, you are more likely to get dehydrated, so drink lots of water. Other beverages such as juices, coffee, soda, etc. will dehydrate you more because sugar actually dehydrates your body more than salt, and caffeine is a diuretic. Also, if you choose to check out Colorado’s amazing craft brewery scene, keep in mind that because of the higher altitude you will become intoxicated faster than when you are at lower altitudes, and may be more hung over than you would normally. Some of the best ways to stay hydrated are to grab electrolyte water, or add lemon juice or oil to your water. The Camel-back style hydration pack is a great hands free way to stay hydrated while you adventure outdoors.
  3. Refuel. Because your body is working harder to provide oxygen to your cells, you burn more calories and thus need to eat more food. Thankfully you are in a place that offers a variety of great food! Be sure to check out Pearl Street! If you decide to go hiking, be sure to take snacks with you; some great options are sport snack bars, or trail mix.
  4. Pace Yourself. Keep in mind that you will probably have to rest more than normal. Also, depending on your fitness level you may want to stick to the easier hikes such as Sanitas Valley Trail, Chautauqua Trail, or Pines to Peak Loop. You still get to experience all that beautiful Boulder County has to offer, but at a less strenuous pace.
  5. Rest. Though the altitude can cause you to not sleep as well the first night, try as best as you can to get a full night of rest, and to build rest times into your schedule.

Altitude sickness not only isn’t fun, but it can become very serious leading to brain swelling and if untreated it can lead to death. If you or your companions become headach-y, nauseous, and dizzy, drink lots of water, take ibuprofen, and rest. If symptoms become more severe, seek medical attention.