Colorado Springs is one of the “highest” cities in the United States – perched at an altitude of 6,035 above sea level -755 feet above Colorado’s “Mile High” city of Denver (5,280 feet). In fact, when in Denver, travel to our city is referred to as “heading UP to the ‘Springs” even though we are south of them.
“At high altitudes, less oxygen is brought into the body with each breath, reducing the flow of oxygen into the brain.” – International Society for Mountain Medicine (So much for calling me an “air head”…)
Did you know ..
Colorado Springs is home to the Olympic Training Center. The “high altitude training” for our athletes is very beneficial. See, if an athlete can beat a record at THIS altitude, they will be phenomenal at lower elevations. Here’s a personal experience: Where I may get a bit winded after a long walk here, I can walk for hours– effortlessly, when I visit my Mom in Portland, Oregon.
Although high altitude causes Coloradoans to use more calories and burn fat faster, there are some less than desirable side effects of altitude to those who move to and visit us in our homeland…
Between 5,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level, about 1 in 4 people will experience mild altitude sickness, or Acute Mountain Sickness, and it strikes these folks within about 12 hours of arriving at high altitude. In fact, it is so common, that if someone feels ill when at a high altitude, it is safe to assume it is just altitude sickness unless proven otherwise.
Some symptoms of altitude sickness include:
- Shortness of Breath (Hyperventilation)
- Dry Throat
- Increased Urination
- Awaking Frequently at Night
There are ways that altitude sickness can be avoided:
Before traveling to Colorado Springs (or other cities above 5,000 feet):
- Get plenty of sleep – The altitude will make you tired.
- Exercise more – You will need to be in pretty good shape to expect to be active at all while in Colorado Springs.
- Plan your trip – Allow yourself time to acclimate
- Please Remember: If you have had altitude sickness before, you WILL get it again.
*People suffering from lung problems (like Emphysema) or heart problems MUST
consult with a doctor before traveling to high altitudes, as symptoms could be fatal. However, it must be noted that fatal reactions to altitude have never been recorded in Colorado Springs.*
While in Colorado Springs:
- Drink plenty of water – You will need the extra hydration and oxygen.
- Avoid tobacco – The list goes on…
- Avoid salty food – You will already be working to stay hydrated.
- Drink one glass of water for every glass of alcohol that you drink – Trust me on this one. (Hint: Visitors to our altitude make for cheap dates.)
- Avoid strenuous activity in the first couple days – Give your body some time to acclimate. Visit our mountain-side zoo (and check out our new baby gorilla, or hand-feed our 19 giraffes…), but do it later in your trip, as it is quite a hike!
- Stay below 7,000 feet for the first couple days – Save your trip to the top of Pikes Peak (14,110 feet) for the end of your trip.
Now, no matter how much planning you may do, altitude sickness can still occur. In these cases, the best ways to alleviate the symptoms are:
- Take some ibuprofen
- Stay away from alcohol
- Drink a lot of water
- DO NOT go any higher in elevation until the symptoms disappear
These precautions apply to elevations between 5,000 and 8,000 feet. Symptoms are known to be worse, as the altitude increases. Check out the International Society for Mountain Medicine regarding precautions to take if your travel plans include any Colorado’s beautiful ski towns.
Moving to Colorado Springs? Please consider hiring a moving company. You will be in no shape to unload a truck when you first arrive. Or, arrive a couple days early and stay at a hotel or with family. This will give you a few needed days before you have to unpack.
One you are here, you will agree: The thin air is a minor price to pay for all the magnificent beauty that Colorado Springs has to offer.
Posted by: Mariana Wagner – Online Home Connection, Colorado Springs Real Estate