Why Do I Get Tired Faster In High Altitudes & How To Treat It?

Traveling at high mountainous areas has become common. People visit such places for recreation or sports activities such as skiing, hiking, biking etc. At high altitudes many people get tired easily. It may be due to low level of oxygen in the air or may be a result of altitude sickness. Altitude 5000 feet above sea level is considered as moderate high altitude.

Adjusting at high altitude may take some time for people who reside at sea level. For first few days few people may feel mild to moderate symptoms when they are at 5000 feet above sea level, but most people suffer from altitude sickness and tiredness as they reach a higher altitude that is 14000 feet and higher.

Causes Of Getting Tired Faster In High Altitudes

There are numerous factors that may lead to tiredness and fatigue more easily when you are in mountainous area, especially at altitudes above 5000 feet and more.

One of the most common causes of feeling tiredness is due to reduced level of oxygen in air. It creates a great challenge for your body to maintain energy with low oxygen concentration and reduction of air pressure at high altitude. Due to low oxygen, the muscles and every cell of your body starve for oxygen. Above 12000 feet oxygen concentration in air becomes almost fifty percent less than that at sea level.

Due to less oxygen, the body needs to work harder to maintain the energy. As a result you may get tired easily even after simple walking or climbing.

Lack of oxygen also affects your appetite and absorption of food. You may suddenly experience drop in your appetite at high altitude. Body’s ability to absorb nutrients also decreases. Both these factors can lead to low level of energy and tiredness. Many people also lose weight when they are at high altitude.

High altitude has its effect on sleep. Many people suffer from fragmented sleep or may develop sleep apnea. Disturbed sleep has its effect on during daytime. Day time tiredness and mood changes are frequent during the initial stay at high altitude.

Easy fatigue and tiredness is experienced more in people who already suffer from chronic lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, etc. People who smoke and drink alcohol may also get easily tired.

Symptoms Of High Altitude Illness

Each person has different body structure, metabolic rate and health condition. Hence the effect of reduced oxygen may not be same for every individual. The severity may vary from one person to another. Most people may experience mild to moderate symptoms of altitude sickness.

Headache, fatigue and tiredness, loss of sleep, dizziness and lightheadedness, palpitation, shortness of breath during simple physical activity are some of the early signs of reduced concentration of oxygen in air at high altitude.

These symptoms are mild and soon person recovers from it after a period of time. However, sometime the symptoms are severe and may lead to serious conditions such as pulmonary edema and cerebral edema.

How To Prevent And Treat High Altitude Tiredness?

Usually body adopts to high altitude atmosphere in two to three days. If you are feeling the symptoms of mountain sickness, and if they are mild, stay in the place and reduce your activities for few days. However, if they are moderate to severe than you may have to descend down to lower altitude to familiarize with the air pressure and atmospheric conditions. You may have to stay there till the symptoms disappear.

Drink enough water and liquids to stay hydrated. Eat frequently even if you are not hungry. At least 70 percent of your diet should be of carbohydrate. Oxygen therapy may relieve the symptoms. With serious and severe symptoms such as confusion, loss of memory, blue discoloration of nails, tightness in chest, etc, patient may need to be hospitalized.

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