Altitude or elevation sickness includes multiple symptoms that happen to your body when you are exposed to a higher elevation within a short period of time. Altitude sickness occurs when you are riding your ATV or side by side to a higher elevation quickly. The higher you climb, the lower the air pressure and oxygen levels get. Our bodies can handle the shift, but they need time to gradually adjust.
Here are some things you can do to prevent yourself from getting altitude sickness.
Slow Down at Longer Distances
Your body needs about two to three days of slowly going higher to adjust to sudden elevation changes. Avoid driving directly to high altitudes as fast as possible. Instead, stop to rest, and continue at a slower pace.
Increase Your Carb Intake
It’s not often we’re told to eat extra carbohydrates. But when you’re at a higher altitude, you need more calories. So pack plenty of healthy snacks, including lots of whole grains.
Eliminate Your Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol, cigarettes, and medications like sleeping pills can make altitude sickness symptoms worse. Avoid drinking, smoking, or taking sleeping pills during your trip to higher altitude. If you want to have a drink, wait at least 48 hours to give your body time to adjust before adding alcohol into the mix.
Replace it With Water
Staying hydrated is also important in preventing altitude sickness. Drink water regularly during your climb.
Sleep at Lower Altitudes
Altitude sickness usually gets worse at night when you’re sleeping. It’s a good idea to do a higher ride during the day and then return to a lower altitude to sleep, especially if you plan on driving more than 1,000 feet in one day.
Consider Taking Altitude Medication
If you decide to take some medication for altitude sickness, make sure you take it as prescribed before you take off on your ATV or side by side adventure. There’s some evidence that taking acetazolamide (the former brand name of Diamox) two days before a trip and during your trip can help prevent altitude sickness.
Acetazolamide is a medication typically used to treat glaucoma. But because of the way it works, it can also help prevent altitude sickness. You’ll need a prescription from your doctor to get it.
It’s also important to know that you can still get altitude sickness even when taking acetazolamide. Once you start having symptoms, the medication won’t reduce them. Getting yourself to lower altitude again is the only effective treatment.
What are Some Symptoms of Elevation Sickness?
Mild symptoms of altitude sickness may include:
● A headache
● Throwing up
● Feeling tired
● Shortness of breath
● Faster heart rate
● Not feeling well overall
● Trouble sleeping
● Loss of appetite
If you develop mild altitude sickness, you should stop climbing any higher and return to a lower elevation level. These symptoms go away on their own when you move to a lower altitude, and as long as they’re gone, you can start the trip again after a couple days of rest.
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