Adjusting to High Altitude


  People living at lower elevations may find there is a period of adjustment when visiting a high altitude area. Symptoms may include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headache
  • Feeling exhausted
  • Feeling “flu-like” symptoms that you just can’t shake
  • Shortness of breath
  • When worse, it may feel like a hangover

Usually these symptoms pass within a few days, but it varies — it may take a little more time for you. Keep in mind that at 9,000 feet, there is 30 percent less available oxygen in the air than at sea level. To give you a gauge, Diamond Peak Ski Resort is 8,540 feet at top elevation, and Mount Rose is 10,776 feet at its peak. Incline Village is 6,350 feet at lake level.

Tips for Adjusting to High Altitude:

  • First and foremost, take it easy. It’s best to give yourself a day in town before hitting the slopes!
  • Drink extra water. Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of water to remain properly hydrated.
  • Drink less alcohol in the first 24-48 hours.
  • Listen to your body. That sluggish, exhausted feeling? Those drooping eyelids and dragging feet? That’s your body’s way of telling you to get some shut eye — probably the most helpful thing you can do.

If you don’t start to feel better within the first few days, or if symptoms get worse, you may need to get medical attention. Our town has an excellent hospital and urgent care center.

  • Incline Village Community Hospital
    880 Alder Avenue
    Incline Village, NV 89451
    (775) 833-4100

    Incline Village Urgent Care & Family Practice
    930 Tahoe Blvd Ste 207, Raley’s Center,
    Incline Village, NV
    (775) 833-2929
    Hours: Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm

Keep in mind that not only is there less oxygen, there is also less humidity in alpine climates. Dry skin, dry nose, and cracked lips are very common — and can be very uncomfortable!

Tips for Dealing with Dry Skin, Dry Nose, and Cracked Lips:

  • Drinking extra fluids helps to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Don’t take hot showers. Keep the water warm.
  • Use a moisturizer on your body when you get out of the shower.
  • Use plenty of chapstick.
  • Consider using a humidifier. If you move here, it is a worthwhile investment.
  • Also, you are more likely to get sunburn at higher altitude. Remember to apply sunscreen.

More tips can be found at The Institute for Altitude Medicine website:

With a little planning and patience, you’ll do fine. Take it easy and enjoy all that Tahoe has to offer!

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