High altitude makes for a completely different travel experience in comparison with the deep state of relaxation that classic beach vacations are permeated by.
Of course, you get to relax on high-altitude trips, too, but usually only after you earn it, which makes resting at the top of a conquered peak or hill, in front of a boundless view, that much more special and rewarding. This is why this kind of travel is not just a vacation, but also a challenge, a practice, an experience whose effects last long after you’re back in the real world.
www.kandooadventures.com is here to help you prepare for a high-altitude trip and also tell you about a fascinating change that happens to our bodies during it which can last for up to 6 months afterward.
You’ve probably heard of this condition but might not be familiar with the details.
While high altitude technically starts at 4,921 feet above sea level, many high-altitude vacation destinations tower way above this mark. For instance, the famous Machu Picchu in Peru is 8,000 feet high, which is roughly the mark at which most people start to experience altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness is the result of the lower “partial pressure” of oxygen in the high-altitude air. The actual content of oxygen in the air always stays the same, regardless of the altitude, contrary to the popular belief.
However, because of the lower pressure, oxygen molecules are not as densely packed together in the air as they normally are, so the same volume of air contains less oxygen molecules. In other words, every breath brings you less oxygen, even though the actual air’s composition is the same. The scientific term for this is hypoxia.
Because of hypoxia, our bodies automatically go into ventilation mode, breathing faster in order to take in the normal amount of oxygen through more breaths. No matter how much our breathing increases though, our intake of oxygen is always lower at higher altitudes.
These altered conditions limit our physical capabilities, cause us to become dehydrated, and basically put us in an overall state that quite resembles hangover, with all its signature doings – headache, nausea, fatigue, and vomiting.
Coping with Altitude Sickness
Since most, if not all, people are susceptible to altitude sickness, especially those who are not used to taking high-altitude trips, learning to cope with this caveat is an absolute must for enjoying the holiday.
The main rule that stands above everything else is to ascend gradually and slowly.
The general rule of thumb, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is to spend a day without ascending for every 3,300 feet you go up. However, that can be easier said than done.
For example, if you’re going on a ski trip and you’re coming from somewhere much lower in altitude, it’s definitely wise to spend a couple of days at the place you fly to before going to the actual ski resort. This way, your body will have a chance to acclimatize to the all-around change of conditions and will be better prepared for the more extreme ones to come. Otherwise, your overall ascent will seem more like a jump to your body.
Another important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t go up more than 1,000 feet per day once you’ve hit the 8,000 feet mark.
Aspirin is the most obvious choice, however, there are prescription drugs you can ask your GP for. Natural supplements like ginger and ginkgo biloba can also be quite helpful.
CBD is going through a meteoric rise in popularity, and unlike with other fads, the hype behind it is justified. CBD is one of the two main compounds in cannabis, but unlike THC, CBD isn’t psychoactive, at least not in the traditional sense, meaning it won’t get you high.
However, CBD has sweeping applications, and even though its use on high-altitude trips hasn’t really caught up, it’s probably only a matter of time before it does. What has already caught up, however, is using CBD as a remedy for hangovers, since the compound has been scientifically proven to significantly relieve inflammation, nausea and migraines – as mentioned above, the same plights that people often have to deal with on high-altitude trips.
This is why CBD might be the perfect and most natural treatment for altitude sickness. And not to mention that it’s also great for relieving muscle soreness, which is another effect that can come in handy during an ascent.
A fascinating study, called AltitudeOmics, found that hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in our red blood cells, not only rises to the challenge of the harsher high-altitude conditions by developing a tighter grip on oxygen molecules, thus helping us to breathe better, but this ability lasts for about 120 days, long after we’ve descended.
This finding alludes to the idea that embarking on a high-altitude trip can improve the performance of our cardio-vascular system for up to half a year – something that’s bound to get many athletes, and people in general, thrilled.
High-altitude travel is certainly more demanding than lying on the beach, but those demands can not only pay off tenfold but even keep paying you dividends long after the trip is over.