Help your flatlander guests acclimate to altitude
The days between Christmas and New Years’ are some of the busiest air travel days of the year, with many visitors arriving in the Roaring Fork Valley intent on spending the holidays enjoying our snowy, hot mineral springs paradise. While most people will have no trouble adjusting to our altitude from the get-go, for some, the oxygen deprivation they experience will profoundly impact their visit, especially if they are arriving from sea level.
Roughly one fifth of Colorado ski area vacationers develop altitude sickness. As residents, we’re used to the high elevation and don’t give altitude sickness a second thought. But for our guests, it can ruin their vacation plans. Altitude sickness is commonly experienced at elevations over 5,000 feet. To exacerbate matters, traveling by plane doesn’t give some flatlanders enough time to adjust to the diminished oxygen levels in Colorado. Altitude sickness can also affect people of all fitness levels.
When your lowlander visitors arrive, strive to be a compassionate host and remember that Colorado is the highest elevation state in the lower 48. Glenwood Springs and the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool are 5,763 feet above sea level, Glenwood Caverns is 7,160 feet, and the top of Sunlight Mountain is 9,895 feet. Rocky Mountain high indeed.
If your out-of-towners seem out-of-sorts, be aware that altitude sickness usually includes a headache plus one of these other symptoms:
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Fatigue and loss of energy
If you suspect altitude sickness might be affecting your guests, suggest these remedies:
1Hydrate — Drinking water or other hydrating beverages is one of the best ways to help your guests adjust to our high altitude. Avoid carbonated beverages and dehydrating drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine, at least initially.
2Take it easy — Of course you’ll want your guests to experience all of Glenwood’s attractions, but for the first day or two take it easy and give them time to adjust. Go for low-exertion activities, like soaking in the mineral hot springs pool or strolling around downtown Glenwood Springs.
3Try a high altitude massage — Many of Glenwood’s spas offer massages or treatments specifically designed to help alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness by stimulating the circulatory system and the body’s ability to deliver more oxygen to tissues.
4Add O2 — Since altitude sickness is brought on by a lack of oxygen; inhaling a concentrated dose of oxygen might be just the remedy to get vacation plans back on track. Several spas in Glenwood Springs offer oxygen therapies. Another option is to reach for a grab-and-go product like Oxygen Plus, which is conveniently nonprescription, portable, refillable and available at retail locations in Glenwood Springs.
5Eat right — Decrease the consumption of salty foods like chips and pretzels, instead opt for foods rich in potassium that help the body adjust. Munch on bananas, avocados, dried fruit and even chocolate. Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes and whole grains, also help to stabilize blood sugar and maintain energy levels.
6Get help — If your guests are worried about the effects of altitude sickness before they arrive, suggest they visit their doctor and ask for a prescription of Acetazolamide (Diamox), the most common drug for altitude sickness and prevention. If symptoms do not abate a few days after arrival, visitors should check in with a medical professional.
Jeremy Gilley is director of sales for Glenwood Hot Springs.
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