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Centura Health

Altitude Illness

Colorado High Country

Because of the high mountain elevations, the air is thinner and contains less oxygen than at lower elevations. Here are a few tips for visitors from lower altitudes on avoiding and/or coping with altitude illness:

To Avoid Altitude Illness

  • If possible, spend 1-2 extra days and nights in Denver before going to higher altitudes, so you can adjust gradually.
  • Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and narcotic pain medicine during your first few days here.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and rest.

Symptoms of Altitude Illness

  • Flu-like symptoms including headache, nausea, vomiting and trouble sleeping.
  • More severe altitude illness, with symptoms similar to pneumonia, congestion and difficulty breathing.
  • Symptoms usually occur within the first three days of arrival and disappear by the fourth day.
  • Altitude and its effects can be life-threatening! If you have heart, lung or other medical problems, be cautious and seek medical advice.
  • Physician's care is necessary for moderate to severe symptoms.
  • If symptoms continue, you will be advised to go to lower elevation.

Our physicians have years of experience in the evaluation and treatment of altitude illness. If you feel at risk for altitude sickness and exhibit any of the symptoms, please call St. Anthony Summit Medical Center at 970-668-3300.


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