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Avoiding Altitude Sickness

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Altitude sickness is a common—and potentially hazardous—condition that can strike in many destinations. Here are some tips on how to avoid it.

Altitude sickness can occur when you travel to a height at least 8,000 feet higher than your starting point.

That includes places like Mexico City, Flagstaff, Denver, and parts of the Canadian Rockies.

The problem has to do with decreased oxygen levels and lowered pressure, which can lead to symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

If you’re traveling to elevations of more than 10,000 feet, it’s worth spending a day or two acclimatizing in a lower-altitude destination.

Dehydration can worsen your symptoms, so drink plenty of water and limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.

If you happen to be traveling to Peru, the local remedy is to chew coca leaves—but if that’s not available, throw some Ginkgo biloba into your first-aid kit.

Learn more in our Travel Health & Fitness section.

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