Altitude can cause discomfort

If you live near sea level and are traveling somewhere high, the days you have booked on a trip should be productive and not spent recovering. It helps to prepare.

A traveler can condition their body to handle altitude pre trip. Hypoxic masks and sprinting can help build up your hemoglobin production and lung conditioning. There are also some suppliments and drugs that can help you acclimate to higher altitudes rapidly.

My first night in Miami after a trip to Bogota, Colombia, I slept 9 hours straight. I never slept more than a couple hours in Bogota. The altitude messed with my sleep schedule. I could tell my body was happy to be at a lower altitude.

The morning after I returned to sea level I had a normal bowel movement, first thing after I woke up.

Maybe that’s TMI.

But, my body just couldn’t keep hydrated in Bogota and I don’t take it for granted.

People tell you to drink water at higher altitudes, but they seldom tell you why.

You are constantly (though it can be subtle) breathing heavier and it pushes moisture out of your lungs. You lose a substantial amount of water through that process in an unusual way.

Your kidneys are still filtering fluids at the blood level and now you’re losing a few liters a day through breathing. If you’re living on a few cups of coffee and late night beer, that’s going to dehydrate you fast. The headaches and nausea can be due to oxygen depravation, but severe dehydration is also a problem.

That’s why some people start pooping rocks.

Your body just can’t waste water on hydrating waste. The risk of dehydration also why alcohol is discouraged. Alcohol dehydrates you anyway (remember peeing a lot when you drink beer). The combination wastes lots of water.

That altitude can do weird stuff to you.

Your heart and lungs are working harder all the time at that level. Imagine 25% deeper breaths, 25% faster heart rate. You have to serve your body with glucose (carbs) and water to make up for the loss. You may notice natives eating carb rich foods. In a month your red blood cells would grow to make up the deficit. But that first week takes its toll.

Red blood cells consume glucose. Glucose most easily comes from carbohydrate foods. This is not the time to go low carb or skip meals. Extra carbs, water, and sleep will dramatically speed up your adjustment to the higher altitude.

Categories: Health


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