Altitude & Your Health

At 8,750 feet in Telluride, Colorado, and 9,500 feet in Mountain Village, visitors from lower altitudes sometimes experience altitude sickness. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can strike anyone sleeping over 6,000 feet, regardless of age or physical fitness. AMS feels like a bad hangover, and symptoms include dizziness, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and/or difficulty sleeping. Symptoms can begin within two to 24 hours after arriving at altitude and usually disappear within six to 48 hours. The following tips help optimize acclimatization and reduce the risk of AMS:

  • Ascend slowly: Schedule an overnight stay at an intermediate altitude on the way to Telluride, such as Denver, Durango, Ouray, Ridgway or Placerville.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink an extra liter of water daily.
  • Avoid alcohol and anxiety/sleeping medications in the benzodiazepine family (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Restoril, Serax and others): Alcohol and benzodiazepine medications suppress breathing and result in lower blood oxygen.
  • Avoid over exertion during the first day or two at altitude.
  • If any symptom are severe or do not subside within 48 hours, call 911.

For more information about altitude and your health, visit the Telluride Institute for Altitude Medicine.