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My partner Tyler and I moved from the Bay Area to northern Colorado in 2015. Now we're living in the Rocky Mountains about 8,000 ft up!

It's beautiful here, but dang has it been a tricky transition. Neither of us have lived at high elevations before - I'm from Kentucky and he's from Missouri - so we weren't entirely sure what to expect. We did a little (not enough at all hahah) research before we moved, but I thought I would share some of the things we learned on the trip out here and while living here.

The most important thing to know about with high altitudes is AMS: Acute Mountain Sickness. I'm going to cover that in depth first, and then give some general tips and tricks for living at or visiting high altitudes. Adjusting to high altitudes can be tricky, but there are lots of things you can do to make the process better.

And even though living at a high altitude has involved a lot of adjustment and dealing with issues I'd never face in Kentucky or California, it's so worth it. I'm never leaving for sure. :D

Step 1: Watch out for Altitude Sickness

This is obviously the greatest risk of being at a higher altitude. In this case, we're taking about altitudes 8,000 feet (2500 meters) and above.

Altitude sickness is actually an umbrella term for a few different illnesses:

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): The most common. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and nausea. This is something I dealt with, but it only lasted a few days. You can typically stay at altitude and treat this with medication and oxygen if needed.
  • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): A more serious version of AMS brought on by brain swelling. With this you'll have a lot of the same symptoms as AMS, but you'll also find yourself extra disoriented, confused and off-balance. You may also experience hallucinations. Treatment for this involves heading to a lower altitude - there's really no other way to fix it. Oxygen and medication can help, but won't resolve it.
  • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): This illness can come on with or without symptoms of AMS. Tyler had to deal with this after and pneumonia after we moved for a few weeks. Symptoms include chest congestion, problems breathing even while at rest, weakness, low oxygen levels, and wheezing heard while breathing. If you're visiting a high altitude, it's a good idea to head to a lower altitude to recover. If you're living in a high altitude like we are, it can be treated with oxygen and medication.

For more information on these illnesses and their symptoms and treatments, please check out the Institute for Altitude Medicine page.

<p>I have lived in Colorado all of my life except for the time in the Army. What I use for high altitude sickness at onset is very simple and it works like a charm.<br>Simply take 2 Antacid tablets with water. I have camped all over the mountains, hunted and fished them all the way up to 13500 ft. When I feel that first tinge of a headache I take them. The sooner the better! I have heard that what the antacid does is opens up your capillary vessels and allows more oxygen into your blood.<br>The study simply like everything else these days wants you to spend money buying some magic potent that doesn't work.<br>This works for me, my wife, and everyone else that I have told about it. Oh...and it's super cheap to boot! </p>
<p>Thanks 'MichaelB942'...can not wait to try this...BTW any particular brand work best for you? </p>
no, not really. i get the cheapos from Costco and they do work for me.
<p>Oh, awesome! Had not heard of that one. Featuring this comment so more folks can see it. :D</p>
<p>The study you cited sounds weak with a small sample size and not much difference in the truly quantifiable measure of arterial oxygen saturation. The main points you covered that should be stressed are conditioning (many US citizens who call themselves fit are not because it takes a lot of work), hydration, gradual acclimation, and sun protection. Should not need (vs enjoy) the stimulants to begin with and they do exacerbate the altitude sickness. I would be skeptical of any folklore remedies until they have a lot of sound scientific support; the statement &quot;can't hurt&quot; is sometimes not the case. Finally, be ready to back off if things go downhill, er that is you should be ready to go downhill..... </p>
<p>Im a retired anesthesiologist and my input might be interesting .. having a 'logic' ..but remember!! : BECAUSE AN EXPLANATION SEEMS LOGICAL DOES NOT MEAN IT IS CORRECT! ...</p><p>In the face of that, let me mention some aspects of physiology ..with the 'background awareness of the fact that Decadron, a steroid, can be used to treat the 'brain swelling' that occurs with 'altitude sickness' .. <br>( Ref: <a href="http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/decadron.aspx"> http://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/drug-info/decad...</a> )</p><p>Now, IF one postulates that 'low blood flow to the brain is an associated fact in altitude sickness, then the following should occur: As the amount of oxygen might be reduced, so would the amount of carbon dioxide be INcreased ..</p><p>During brain surgery, it is common for the anesthesiologist to be asked to do what 'we can' to decrease brain size, to give the surgeon more 'room to work' , and we can easily do that by 'hyperventilating' the patient' Ie, increasing his/her respirations ... this drives down CO2 and also SHRINKS the brain a bit .. </p><p>So, it might be reasonable to think that the INCREASED CO2 that might exist with altitude sickness (lower blood flow is our undocumented premise, here, remember) might actually contribute to brain SWELLING .. which is associated with altitude sickness. !!!</p><p>Note also that 'hydration' can INCREASE blood flow and thereby DECREASE CO2 ... So, things SEEM to 'add up' .... BUT remember: 'logical does NOT equal 'correctness' !</p><p>Jessie!! You've added a new dimension to your 'interesting-ed-ness' here!! </p><p>When might your run for President??????!!</p>
<p>Oh, it is definitely pretty weak! However, there's enough anecdotal evidence in this region of Colorado that I've had loads of people recommend it to me, including health professionals. I haven't heard of it exacerbating altitude sickness - if you can provide a credible source for that I'd consider taking it out! </p><p>I've only heard positive things thus far, and I feel pretty confident that taking a small dosage of gingko biloba for less than a week would not cause permanent harm. </p>
<p>If I humbly understand your concern and implied expertise in these matters, please accept encouragement to create a scientifically documented 'ible on this subject.</p>
<p>Another &quot;Awsome'ible !</p><p>Be well :-)</p>
Great Ible! I learned a lot!! God Blesd
When my wife flew from iowa to Colorado Springs her friend greeted her with protein drinks and a bunch of water. It helped her a lot. Got her off to a good stop. While there, she had to stay well hydrated and had to drink a lot of protein drinks the whole time there. She's anemic, so that was a huge issue.
Are you in breckenridge? I recognize those photograph locations
<p>Nope! A couple hours north in Grand County. :)</p><p>The first photo is from Berthoud pass, second photo is the top of Trail Ridge Road, and the rest are taken here in the county!</p>
I usually chew on 2 of them if I am going to be staying for any length above 9500 ft. Just driving thru the mountains usually isn't a prob for me. The key is to take the antacid prior to going above 9500 ft for me. <br>Once the illness has allowed to take over it will take allot longer for the tablets to work, but eventually they will. Drink allot of water and beer...<br>it's all about getting more oxygen to the brain...Hmmm I wonder if this would work for certain individuals in Washing DC????
<p>I can sympathize, I currently live in MO and my sister lives above 9,000 feet. You can buy portable disposable oxygen bottles (with mask attached) in most grocery stores in CO. Great for oxygenating flatland visitors</p>
<p>I wish I done more research before I moved into a high altitude, I had constant nosebleeds for a month it was so dry. </p><p>We miss you here, Jessy! But, so glad you're happy there :)</p>
Great job! I've been here for 45 years and experienced some minor problems in the beginning. Thanks for this compilation as visitor aren't always as lucky!
<p>Great 'ible' Jessy!</p><p>I've experienced some of the symptoms of AMS when traveling, especially dehydration. There are 2 things you might investigate for your high altitude living. First is a pulse oxymeter - those little things that clip on your finger and light up that tell you about your blood oxygen level and pulse. You can get these for around $20 (check Amazon). Another is that lipbalm (ChapStick or Carmex or the like) applied to scratches and scrapes helps them to heal. I think the principle is that it slows the release of moisture. Give it a try and let us know if it works at heights. I live below 700 feet but find that it helps scrapes heal (I'm a geezer at 75).</p><p>Thanks for the education. You've helped a lot of people by sharing your experiences and knowledge gained.</p>
<p>More importantly, how did the dog and two cats do? Glad to hear you acclimated out/up there.</p>
<p>They are all great!! </p><p>Our dog had a rough time for the first couple months getting out of breath, but now he's acting like a puppy again. (And he's 10, so that is fantastic!) His health was failing in CA, but he's lost weight running around out here and loves it so much. </p><p>The cats showed no issues, really, and they love having open windows and animals to look at again. Plus we're in a bigger house now so they're enjoying running at top speed everywhere. :P</p>
<p>Very awesome and comprehensive guide! A good read for anyone moving to a higher altitude.</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>

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Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
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