You may have heard the term “elevation sickness” used by climbers or hardcore skiers. Still, it can affect anyone who increases their altitude too quickly for their body to handle—which can include the adventurous CFMOTO ATV or side by side rider. The higher you climb, the lower the air pressure and oxygen levels get, and when our body becomes accustomed to a given level, it needs time to adjust. Failure to provide it with this time can result in serious illness.

At CFMOTO, we care about the quality of your ride, from the equipment you use to the experience itself. We’re here to give you a few precautionary tips and ways to prevent high heights from ruining your trip.

Slow Down When Climbing Up

Your body needs about two to three days of slowly going higher to adjust to sudden elevation changes. This is because your body is “used to” functioning using a given level of air concentration. Your circulatory system will also need time to adjust, according to UAPEX.

Avoid driving directly to high altitudes as fast as possible. Instead, take a relatively slow pace and stop to smell the roses a bit.

Increase Your Carb Intake

It’s not often we’re told to eat extra carbs, but you need more calories when you’re at a higher altitude. Thanks to the unique way they metabolize, carbohydrates are an easily accessible fuel for your body at high altitudes, according to NatureMed Integrative Medicine. So pack plenty of healthy snacks, including lots of whole grains.

Cut the Alcohol and Cigarettes

Alcohol, cigarettes, and medications like sleeping pills can worsen altitude sickness symptoms. Avoid drinking, smoking, or taking sleeping pills at a higher altitude during your trip. 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.

And as always, as an ATV company and side by side manufacturer, we never endorse drinking and driving. Please play responsibly.


Staying hydrated is also vital in preventing altitude sickness. It’s important to drink water regularly during your climb and mind your electrolyte intake. These substances are lost when you sweat, and without them, it becomes impossible to hydrate properly. Our advice? Take a cue from athletes everywhere and pack some sports drinks or electrolyte supplements in your CFMOTO’s carrying case.

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, then return to a lower altitude to sleep, especially if you plan on driving more than 1,000 feet in one day.

Consider Medication

If you decide to take medication for altitude sickness, make sure you take it as prescribed before taking off on your ATV or side by side adventure. Many altitude sickness medications can only come from a doctor, though over-the-counter varieties are available. Talk to a health professional to see what option is right for you.

It’s also important to know that you can still get altitude sickness even when taking medications; nothing makes you immune. Once you start having symptoms, the medication won’t reduce them. Getting yourself to lower altitude again is the only effective treatment.

Know the Symptoms

Even with the most careful riding, sometimes mild symptoms of altitude sickness may include:

●        A headache

●        Nausea

●        Dizziness

●        Throwing up

●        Feeling tired

●        Shortness of breath

●        Faster heart rate

●        Trouble sleeping

●        Loss of appetite

It’s important to note that altitude sickness exists on a continuum, and every person is an individual. You don’t need to present every symptom to have a viable case of altitude sickness. At the end of the day, you know your body best. If you’re not feeling well, speak up!

What to Do if You Develop Altitude Sickness

In mild cases, 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, limit your exertion, and take care of yourself. You can start the trip again after a couple days of rest.

When to Seek Medical Attention

We don’t mean to downplay the potential severity of altitude sickness. It can be incredibly dangerous in some cases, especially if you’re predisposed—say, you live at a lower elevation or have lung or heart conditions. 

Two forms of altitude sickness require immediate medical attention: High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). While both involve gathering fluid around the affected organ, the former relates to your lungs, and the latter your brain. As such, with HAPE, you’re likely to experience a suffocating feeling and “breathlessness, even while resting,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. HACE, on the other hand, can cause erratic behavior, memory loss, and confusion.

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop your ride and immediately seek medical help. Though these conditions are uncommon, they can be life-threatening.

CFMOTO: The ATV Manufacturer and Side by Side Company That Cares

We care about our customers—both about their safety and the quality of the products they receive. With CFMOTO, you can experience more ATV action with our custom-designed, liquid-cooled 4-stroke engines and an unmatched assortment of premium-features-made-standard. CFMOTO ATVs and sport-utility side X sides are perfect for tackling the trailheads or getting down to work.

To learn more about what these powerful machines can do for you, use our online CFMOTO dealer locator today!