Headed to the mountains this summer? Or the high desert?
One of our favorite things to do is hike in the mountains or visit the high desert in west Texas. Through our life experiences we’ve learned it’s always important to respect the altitude. We have been in situations that range from getting dehydration headaches to severe altitude sickness. Anywhere between 15-40% of travelers may experience altitude sickness. Symptoms can creep up anywhere from 8-36 hours after reaching altitude so the best thing is to understand what happens to your body at altitude and how to be proactive with your health so you can enjoy some high desert or mountain time.
Two things you want to try to avoid are dehydration and altitude sickness. Both can have similar symptoms but are caused by different things.
At altitude there is less humidity and the air is drier which makes it easy to lose moisture quicker. Sweat also evaporates faster, making it hard to even realise you are sweating, causing you to lose even more fluids. You can also lose moisture through other body parts such as your lungs, nose, and eyes.
Increased Breathing Rate
Lower oxygen means quicker breathing causing you to lose fluid through your lungs.
Increased Urine Output
This is a result of your kidneys trying to produce more red blood cells to compensate for the lower oxygen. This response to high elevations can cause you to urinate more frequently therefore increasing fluid loss.
High altitudes and cold temperatures suppress thirst. When we are not thirsty, it can make it hard to remember to drink!
So how do you stay proactive and hydrated? This is our typical protocol at altitude and it works like a charm to prevent symptoms such as:
-dry eyes (terrible when you have contacts!)
-feeling dried out
Start the morning with 1 scoop of Lyte-Switch
Take Ceru (Fuel + Electrolytes) on regular intervals throughout our hikes and excursions
Before bed, take 1 more scoop of Lyte-Switch
Drink and extra 1-1.5 Liters in addition to what we typically drink per day
Eat hydrating foods and snacks throughout the day
While hydration is important, it is still possible to get altitude sickness even while hydrated.
Altitude sickness is caused by the rapid exposure of low oxygen in the body. This can happen because you climb altitude too quickly, your activity level being too high at altitude, going to altitude anemic, or you have a history of altitude sickness and you know you are susceptible.
Warning symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
“Pins and needles” sensation
Peripheral edema (swelling of hands, feet, and face)
Shortness of breath upon exertion
Persistent rapid pulse
Sever Symptoms include
Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
Cerebral edema (swelling of the brain)
If you ever experience any symptoms of altitude sickness, seek medical attention (oxygen therapy + hyperbaric therapy) and descend safely to a lower altitude.
Mountain medicine recognizes three altitude regions which reflect the lowered amount of oxygen in the atmosphere:
High altitude = 1,500–3,500 m (4,900–11,500 ft)
Very high altitude = 3,500–5,500 m (11,500–18,000 ft)
Extreme altitude = above 5,500 m (18,000 ft)
So stay safe and hydrated out there and enjoy being out in some epic landscapes! And give Ceru and Lyte-Switch a try to get some potent healthy hydration.
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