Peru is not only famous for its ancient ruins and historical sites such as Machu Picchu, but it is also known for its beautiful mountain resorts, towns and hiking destinations. Many of these destinations, including the aforementioned historical sites are located in regions that are thousands of feet above sea level. Altitude sickness is a common phenomenon that people experience when they travel to high-altitude regions from a typically low altitude region.
How does altitude sickness feel?
When you experience altitude sickness, you might experience feeling giddy, your head my hurt similar to an intense migraine attack, you might not want to eat much as people usually lose appetite in high altitudes, you might want to vomit, you might feel weak or fatigued and you may experience insomnia, an inability to fall asleep.
How high should the location be to experience altitude sickness?
Most people do not experience the symptoms of altitude sickness till they reach 8,000 feet above sea level. However, for some people, this sickness can set in at places as low as just 5,000 feet above sea level. This means, Cusco, which is located at an elevation of 11,200 feet is certainly a place where you might fall sick. Same holds true for Machu Picchu and other historical locations in Peru. Less said the better about mountain resorts and hiking routes that are even higher on the slopes of the Andes.
Things you can do to avoid altitude sickness
In order to ensure that your trip to Peru is not marred by altitude sickness, you can do a few things.
- Drink lots of water
There is nothing more important than keeping yourself hydrated, when you are in a place that is located at a very high elevation. As the humidity is lower in upper reaches, your body requires more water to function normally. This also means you should not drink a lot of coffee or tea, as they contain caffeine which can leave you dehydrated. Also, try not to drink a lot of alcohol, at least till your body gets adjusted to the elevation.
- Eat well
It is important to eat a lot of fruits for their sugars, vegetables for their complex carbohydrates and fish for easily digestible protein. Remember that your digestion will not be great at high elevations.
- Don’t get too much sun
Though it is cold in upper elevations, it is easy to get too much of sun. In fact, it is very easy to get sun burned at high elevations. Use sunscreen and do not stay in sun for too long, even if it is cold.
- Seek medical help
If you feel you are going to get sick, immediately rush to a doctor or a hospital. Peru has adequate medical assistance available and you will be able to get the help you need.
- Get used to the place
It is not like you will never acclimatize to the place. Engage in low-risk activities and take it easy for one or two days. By this time, your body gets adjusted. Then, you can have all the fun you want.
Peru can be a lot of fun, especially when you are discovering its ancient places or mountain resorts. However, ensure that you are well prepared for altitude sickness and when it does happen, be sure to recognize it and seek help.