7 Ways To Deal With The Altitude Sickness While Travelling
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7 Ways To Deal With Altitude Sickness While Travelling In South America

16 Jan 7 Ways To Deal With Altitude Sickness While Travelling In South America

Altitude sickness is real. Not everyone experiences it, however, some experience it worse than others. After struggling with altitude sickness in a month when I moved to Ecuador ( Quito 2850 meters above sea level/ 9350 feet) I have now learned how to live with it. Here are my 7 best ways to deal with altitude sickness while travelling.

Viewing Machu Picchu from above

Symptoms of altitude sickness

Dizziness

Nausea

Headache

Slow digestion 

Fatigue 

Confusion

Shortness of breath

Sleeping problems

Loss of appetite

Vomiting

Acclimatise before your important part of the travel

If you travel to Peru, Puno or Cusco shouldn’t be your first destination there. Allow yourself a few days to acclimatise at a lower altitude. A good place to acclimatise near Cusco is Ollantaytambo or Aguas Calientes.  Though you can’t always fly into small towns if you, for example, are going to Bolivia most people arrive in La Paz or Cusco in Peru. It usually takes some hours for the altitude sickness to kick in and you do have time to locate to a lower altitude if it is not too far away. 

sharingAvoid eating too much

Your appetite will not be at its best when you are at a high altitude and it takes longer to digest. It is no point to order huge meals, you won’t be able to finish it and your stomach will not be happy about it. A starter or sharing a big meal is more ideal. Make sure you eat something that is easy to digest so pizzas are usually not a good idea. My personal experience here was I ordered a huge meal at a fancy restaurant in Cusco and didn’t end up eating even half of it.

Cotopaxi shelterDon’t push too hard on the hiking

It is not a good idea to run up the hills and mountains when you are at a high altitude. It might hit you ten times faster and even worse.If that happens you should hike down to a lower altitude right away. Take it slow and drink plenty of water while you hike.



Avoid drinking alcohol 

Drinking alcohol at a high altitude will make you even more dehydrated than you would already be in the dry environment. If you haven’t had any altitude problems it will most likely hit you when you drink alcohol. It is very important to be hydrated when you are in a high altitude, especially if you struggle with altitude sickness.

Drink cocoa tea

Peruvians especially, swear by their cocoa tea at a high altitude. I tried it when I was in Cusco and Puno. Not sure if it helped much, but it is worth a try.

Use chlorophyll drops in your water

 

Liquid Chlorophyll is supposed to give you more oxygen to the brain and help you deal with the altitude. It is natural. I tried it when I was in Peru and was advised start one week before travelling. You mix a few drops in the water and it will turn green. 

Take pills for altitude sickness

Altitude Altitude Rx OxyBoost Complex

You should start taking altitude sickness pills some days before your trip and upscale when you reach the high altitude. You can get over the counter pills like aspirin etc and it is quite easy to get it over the counter in places like Peru and Ecuador. Be aware of side effects and talk to your doctor if you have an illness or are on other medication before start using these pills. You should also talk to a doctor/pharmacist on recommended consumption. 

Important 

If you get really bad you need to get oxygen from oxygen tanks or move to a lower altitude immediately. If you are concerned make sure you stay at a hotel that has oxygen tanks and that it is available on the tours you join and on the different transportations.

 

Have you experienced altitude sickness? How did you deal with it? 

 

13 Comments
  • Lori
    Posted at 17:01h, 16 January Reply

    Altitude affects almost everyone, though they may not realize it at the time. I agree about traveling in Peru and starting your trip in Ollantaytambo or Aquas Calientes, both of which are significantly lower in elevation than Cusco. And yes, drink the Coca tea!!!

  • Megan Indoe
    Posted at 17:04h, 16 January Reply

    This is so important to read up on before doing anything that requires you to go to higher altitudes! We are thinking of doing Everest Base Camp and this all applies as well! Great tips!

  • candy
    Posted at 00:00h, 17 January Reply

    I’ve always heard that preparing for altitude sickness is important and only knew about a few of the things on this list. I did not know about the Liquid Chlorophyll. Such useful information for people like me who will most likely experience altitude sickness.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 15:07h, 17 January Reply

      Liquid Chlorophyll is such a great alternative if you don’t want to use medications 😀

  • Chantell Collins
    Posted at 04:14h, 17 January Reply

    These are really practical tips! I had some friends who visited Machu Picchu and was surprised to hear that the one who suffered from altitude sickness the most was the healthiest and fittest. It definitely doesn’t affect everyone and can affect some more severely than others. I will keep this in mind for my visit (hopefully late 2018 or early 2019).

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 14:40h, 17 January Reply

      I think Cusco is worse than Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu is not that high. I think healthy people suffer more because they push themselves too hard. Hope you get to visit 😀

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 00:06h, 18 January Reply

    These are really sensible and practical tips to battle altitude sickness. Acclimatization prior to the travel is very important. Also not exerting oneself and going slow is really very important. These tips are of use for any mountainous region and will stand in good stead.

  • Paige W
    Posted at 00:24h, 18 January Reply

    These are really great tips! When I was in Peru doing the Inca Trail, I definitely took altitude sickness pill and I definitely took part in the coca tea. My bestie was on the trip too and she got super sick in Cusco and struggled on the Inca Trail Luckily, she didn’t have to turn back.

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 13:56h, 18 January Reply

      Cusco was the hardest for me too. I wish I did the Inca Trail :/

  • Laura Nalin
    Posted at 09:12h, 18 January Reply

    These are such good tips! I’ll never forget when I first got to Cusco, Peru, and I was handed coca leaves to alleviate the altitude sickness symptoms. I’ve had a few issues sometimes hiking in Colorado – particularly drinking in Denver as it goes straight to one’s head!

    • thevikingabroad
      thevikingabroad
      Posted at 13:58h, 18 January Reply

      That handed that and sold it everywhere in Cusco hehe. Would love to go to Colorado 🙂

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