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How to Adjust to High Altitude with 8 Easy Ways

You need to know how to adjust to high altitude if you are planning a trip to high altitude. Check out the 8 ways to help you adjust to high altitude easily.

By Lane | @Lane

Updated on Aug 05, 2019

how to adjust to high altitude

If you are planning a trip to altitudes over 5,000 feet for backpacking, skiing, mountain climbing and other activities, you need to know how to adjust to high altitude to make your trip happy and healthy. Here we’ll share with you 8 easy ways to adjust to high altitude.

1. Go Up in Altitude Slowly – Best Way to Adjust to High Altitude

The best way to adjust to high altitude is to ascend slowly. It is important to remember that your body needs 4-5 days to adjust to high elevation. It is not a good idea to climb the mountain in one day. Climb slower rather than faster to avoid altitude sickness. What’s more, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery when you go up in altitude slowly.

2. Drink More Water

Drinking more water is one of the most important ways to help you adjust to high altitudes. When you're on a mountain, you actually lose more water and sodium. The combination of physical activity (hiking or skiing) and drier and cooler air means it dehydrates easily if you don't drink plenty of water. And the dehydration can enhance the effects of altitude sickness. It is suggested to drink about twice as much water at high altitudes than you do at home. Avoid sugary or caffeinated drinks, such as soda-pop, because these fluids act as diuretics and can dehydrate you easily.

>> Also read, How to Purify Water in the Wild with 4 Ways

3. Reduce Your Physical Activity

The air gets thinner when you get the higher altitude, so each breath you take contains less oxygen and it makes your heart beat faster. In other words, your hearts and lungs are working harder to do the same thing than you do at sea level. In order to give your body time to adjust to higher altitudes, it's better to reduce your physical activity to about 50-75% of what you normally do for the first few days you are at a higher altitude.

4. Get Plenty of Rest

Make an effort to get plenty of rest to help you adjust to high altitude faster. But it's tough when you're at a higher altitude to have a good night's sleep. Altitude exposure may have significant effects on sleep and the most prominent effects are sleep apnea and frequent pauses in breath. When you are in the high altitude mountains and experiencing sleep apnea, you aren’t getting as full of rest as you are at home. A common recommendation is to descend to a lower height to sleep at night. Also take a nap during your day.

>> Also Read: 5 Tips for Free Solo Climbing in 2019 [Safety Guidelines]

5. Protect Yourself from the Sun

how to adjust to high altitude 

When you are at the high altitude, you are closer to the sun, which means there’s more exposure to the sun and you are more likely to burn. So, whether it is cloudy or cold outside, you still need to wear high SPF sunscreen. Besides, use a SPF lip balm to protect your lips and wear the sunglass all day to protect your eyes. Getting a wide brimmed sunhat is also necessary to cover your face, neck, and ears. 

6. Eat High Carb and Potassium Diet

Your body burns more calories when you're doing exercise at high altitudes, so if you want to adjust to higher altitudes, you need to increase your carbohydrate from food such as whole grains, potatoes, fruits, and whole wheat bread. Replenish electrolytes by balancing salt intake with the high potassium food like broccoli, bananas, avocados, spinach, yogurt, and kale.

>> Also Read: 4 Best Dehydrated Backpacking Recipes

7. Prepare Some Medication to Prevent Altitude Sickness

Prepare some medication especially if you are prone to altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is the most common problem at high altitude. But there are plenty of medications out there that can help you prevent altitude sickness like Acetazolamide. It is a medication that is used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness by increasing respiration. Acetazolamide should be taken a few days before your trip, but it can also be used on the spot if you start feeling uncomfortable. Also prepare ibuprofen to prevent headaches.

Tips: You need to know the early signs and symptoms of altitude sickness, then you can take some actions to prevent it from worsening.

8. Get Oxygen – Quick Way to Adapt to High Altitude

A quick way to adapt to the high altitude is to carry a portable oxygen canister when traveling above 10,000 feet. Take some oxygen whenever you feel winded. You can buy or rent oxygen concentrators in the resort, and there will have oxygen on-site for sick skiers at the medical stations. People who are at risk for anemia should consult their doctor about taking iron supplements to help maintain oxygen levels.


Now you know how to adjust to high altitude. Everyone can enjoy the experience that only high altitude can offer. You may also want to know how long does it take to adjust to high altitude, in fact for the vast majority of people, symptoms will fade within the first two or three days. But if your symptom is severe, descend to a lower elevation and go back to the resort gradually. Do you have other tips about adjusting to high altitudes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below now.

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