Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Are you affected by altitude sickness?

Do you feel a little lightheaded or even sick as you drive up a high mountain pass? Symptoms tend to occur within hours after arrival at high altitude and include headache, nausea, shortness of breath and inability to exercise. Mild cases may resolve in one to three days. Severe cases may require oxygen, medications, and moving to a lower altitude.

Do you feel the effects of high altitude?

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Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodburyhttps://rvtravel.com
I'm the founder and publisher of RVtravel.com. I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Dave (@guest_28343)
5 years ago

We lived near Durango, CO for several years at 7,500′ and never had a problem. We had many visitors over the years and our first advice for “flat landers” was to drink lots and lots of water and be careful with alcohol intake. We had a refrig with a water dispenser, I insisted, you walk by the fridge, have a glass of water. In all that time only one of our visitors had a problem with altitude sickness. He was a runner and found it hard to stay properly hydrated though. Water is your friend, especially at dry, high altitude locations – drink lots!

Al & Sharon (@guest_28336)
5 years ago

I selected NO I am not affected by altitude sickness. HOWEVER, I don’t go from 2000′ to 9000′ w/o spending a few days at about 6000′ before moving higher.

Bottom line, no one can go from sea level to 9000′ w/o feeling the affects of the altitude. Doesn’t mean you have to have nausea or headaches, but you will not be able to do what you normally do w/o acclimation to the higher altitude. (OOPS! I should have said elevation, not altitude)

John T (@guest_28324)
5 years ago

Those who say they are not affected have not gone high enough. That’s a physiological fact. Different people will be affected at different elevations, but it will affect everyone at some elevation.

I drove to the top of Mount Evans, at 14,100 ft, a couple of weeks ago, and had no effects. That’s because I had been at 8,000 ft for the previous two months, and at 10,000 ft for the previous week. I would not have attempted it otherwise.

Eric Meslin (@guest_28231)
5 years ago

Went up Mauna Loa in Hawaii a few years ago. The visitor center is at about 9,000 feet and they make you stay there for a couple of hours to acclimate. Only 4 wheel drive after that point with escort to the observatory. It was 35 degrees inside the building at 13,000 feet and my wife had a bit of a panic attack due to the altitude and confined space. We had to leave the group and head back down.

Dann (@guest_28221)
5 years ago

It was back in 1968. I was an athlete in perfect condition when my new wife and I journetyed to San Fran to see what it was all about. We got to Colorado Springs, went up Pike’s Peak and to the top. I got out of the car and started to walk to the small NPS restaurant. The second I stood up, dizzy. Never had that feeling in my life and don’t want it ever again. Got into the restaurant and in the walls were little oxygen dispensing ports. The rangers explained what the problem probably was. They didn’t dispense O2 to me but I was almost immediately headed back down the mountain. The next day I was just fine but scared me, for certain. I was just 28 yrs old.

Rosemary (@guest_28159)
5 years ago

Traveled via RV west from Long Island, New York w/1st extended-stay stop being Omaha, NE. Then traveled to Loveland, CO for a few days. While there, friends drove us to Rocky Mountain National Park but we could not travel to top due to snowstorm (end of May!) the night prior closing the road. When we got out of car near top to take in the view, hubby & I found we had a little difficulty walking. After Loveland we went for a week’s stay in Jackson, WY. While niece was driving us back to CG after spending day in Yellowstone, a bear crossed the highway in front of car. Niece was very excited for us to see this bear but I could not even raise my head to look, I was sitting in backseat feeling just miserable. Thought I was getting sick. It wasn’t until I found brochure about High Altitude Sickness in CG laundromat that I finally realize what was wrong w/me. Told niece next day and she was shocked we knew nothing about it ahead of time. Gave us tons of advice that I wish we had known beforehand.

Thom Bell (@guest_28126)
5 years ago

I live at the 9400′ level of the Colorado Rockies so high elevation does not effect us. Going lower in elevation, I find that alcohol has less effect on me and I have more energy. I am also fascinated with the term altitude sickness. Altitude is what airplanes fly at, elevation is a measurement of your distance above an arbitrary point called sea level. Altitude and elevation are not synonymous!

RV Staff
5 years ago
Reply to  Thom Bell

Hi, Thom,
Here’s a description from Wikipedia: “Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a negative health effect of high altitude, caused by acute exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high altitude.” So it doesn’t sound like you need to be in an airplane to suffer from “altitude sickness.” BTW — If you Google “elevation sickness,” it takes you to “altitude sickness.” 😉 —Diane at RVtravel.com

BJ Lewis (@guest_28110)
5 years ago

When we moved from California to Colorado in the 90s, living at 8000′, I would get altitude sickness for at least a week. Like a severe flu with migrane. Every time we returned from a vacation, I would get altitude sickness again, for the 10 years we lived in CO. Today when we RV, I try to select the lowest RV park elevation but so far have stayed well.

Deborah (@guest_28073)
5 years ago

We have lived at an elevation of 9,860 ft for decades. Elevation definitely plays a part in daily life. When we leave home for an extended period of time, ( like AZ for the winter) we need to come home slowly…usually through NM to gain elevation and to acclimate. Leaving elevation = immediate de-acclimation. It gets harder as we get older. Your MD can help: ask about Diamox 125 mg once or twice a day for a day or two BEFORE arriving at altitude and a day or two AFTER arrival. Also O2 is the great equalizer. Get a prescription from your MD to rent a few tanks or a Personal Oxygen Concentrator. We keep a concentrator on hand for guests. Airliners are pressurized at 8,000-8,500 ft so that is pretty high as well. Also animals are affected by altitude—be careful of those horses you are hauling up from the flatlands to go hunting. They don’t know to go slow and easy…you have to do it for them

RV Staff
5 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

Great tips! Thank you very much, Deborah! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Stephen (@guest_28069)
5 years ago

I worked for a number of years in Northwest Argentina at a mine at between 4200 and 5000 metres elevation with no issues. Never was able to join in with the mine soccer team and play however, just helping to officiate tired me out! However we did have oxygen available and had to help out a number of visitors to the site.

Glenda Alexander (@guest_28024)
5 years ago

On my last trip to Colorado Springs I was really hit hard by altitude sickness. I made the mistake of going to the top of Pike’s Peak on the morning after my arrival at an RV park in Manitou Springs. I took the precaution to drink lots of water and to walk slowly but that didn’t work. The next morning, as soon as I woke up, my head was spinning. I was laid low for two days! Next time, I’ll take several days to gain altitude a little at a time!!!

bill (@guest_28020)
5 years ago

I wasn’t sick but got very tired after three days at the Grand canyon. My wife had a really bad headache in Rawlings, Wyoming. Not always obvious what the cause is, we have traveled through both areas often in the past with no ill effects.

James Collins (@guest_28017)
5 years ago

When I lived in Colorado Springs, I found out, when I tried to go up Pikes Peak, that I couldn’t, then last year on our way to Seattle got a massive headache that wouldn’t quit til I got to a lower altitude.

Dave Steep (@guest_28016)
5 years ago

As we have aged we’ve had to stop drinking anything alcoholic or caffeinated for a week before and during the first week of traveling to avoid the bad head-aches, nausea and vomiting that had plagued us previously from altitude. Now we drink lots of water and take Motrin as needed to reduce the effects. usually fine after the first week at altitude. We live at 1200 ft. so it starts effecting us at about 6000 feet.

Tony King (@guest_28011)
5 years ago

I didn’t used to be but pulmonary problems made me definitely more sensitive to Altitude. We camp every year at 7000′ for 6 weeks in the High Sierra so I can manage it somewhat. We did drive our Class B up to 14,110′ to the top of Pikes Peak and we both felt nauseated until we went back down a few thousand feet then started feeling better

Troy (@guest_28002)
5 years ago

I don’t really notice any issues if I’m just driving through, but if I stop and or stay for awhile then I’m definitely short of breath.

Dave (@guest_27999)
5 years ago

We stayed in Lead, CO at what I think is the highest RV park in USA. The owner said to stay in our RV with the A/C on to stop the effects of high altitude. Well, we knew better and walked downtown (2 blocks) instead. By the time we huffed and puffed our way back, we were both sick.

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