How to not die from altitude sickness in Denver

Pay attention the next time your fav football team is playing the Denver Broncos—the network will probably show one of the visiting team's players sucking down oxygen from a mask like there's no tomorrow. That's the altitude, baby, and it can make you feel fatally ill.

Okay, so you most likely won't die if you get altitude sickness (but it can be very dangerous) while visiting the Mile High City and its neighboring mountain towns, but we know you will probably feel pretty dizzy and headachy if you succumb to acute mountain sickness if you're coming from sea level. Here are four tips and tricks for dealing with and avoiding altitude sickness in Denver.


Take it easy
Altitude sickness usually hits a day after being at a higher elevation, so the first day you get to Denver, take it easy. Common symptoms include dizziness, throbbing headaches, feeling weak and tired, but you can't sleep, and you're not hungry for all of that delicious Denver green chile. If severe enough, get yourself to a doctor. Make sure you're okay at 5,280 feet before going to any of Colorado's famed ski towns by chilling out around the city for a day or two.

Eat carbs, avoid booze
Bad news if you came to Denver to try all of the delicious local brews—booze does not help altitude sickness. Carbs, however, do help, so chow down on pasta at Panzano or pizza at Osteria Marco to store up lots of energy to beat acute mountain sickness. There's nothing like good ol' H20 to quell feeling ill from the altitude, so keep your water bottle full.

Get low
When the elevation is too high, go lower, at least 1,500 feet, according to experts. If you decide to ski in the Rockies, go for it, but be sure you rest your head at a lower elevation to thwart altitude sickness. If you're feeling headachy and weak, travel to a lower elevation with a friend as soon as possible.

Seek help
Of course, there's no shame in asking for help, especially if you're feeling woozy and confused, a sign of severe altitude sickness. A doctor can provide oxygen and medicine, like Diamox, to help you get quickly acclimated to the higher elevation. For mild symptoms, ibuprofen is magic. And, of course, don't climb any mountains until your symptoms go away.

Ali Struhs grew up a spud in Eastern Idaho but was always bound for Denver, Colo. A freelance writer, blogger, and boy mom, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors, rocking out at Red Rocks, and chasing around her toddler.