Your body responds in several ways to an increase in altitude – typically within 6 hours of arrival to the Colorado Rocky Mountains:
- Your breathing will accelerate. Your lungs are trying to catch up!
- You develop a headache, which is as a result of mild swelling of the brain, caused by the reduced oxygen levels.
- Your Heart rate increases. The heart is working harder to pump oxygen-carrying blood to the rest of the body.
- Your kidneys flush more fluids out of the body. This diuretic effect helps the blood to thicken slightly and carry more red blood cells, which carry more oxygen. This is why everybody urinates more at higher elevations.
Everyone who comes from a low elevation to high altitude will experience these physiological changes. However, if you ascend in elevation too quickly, the body can get overloaded, and you can feel very sick. Altitude sickness feels like a bad hangover or a case of the flu without the sore throat or cough. If you are not sure what is making you feel bad it’s most likely altitude sickness.
fatal. If anyone in your party has difficulty keeping their balance, is staggering, has a cough and has decreased exercise ability – Seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Extreme cases of altitude sickness can cause fluid buildup in either the brain as High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) —or in the lungs as: High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). HACE and HAPE are very dangerous conditions, and can be