Today on my ongoing series of Tuesday’s Travel Problems, I look at altitude sickness and the best ways to avoid it, deal with it and get through it. Altitude sickness is also known as soroche. It is common of course in areas of HIGH altitude. Places such as Tibet, Nepal, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru are the areas where you will be at risk to getting altitude sickness. I’m not a doctor, nor do I know much about medication and health, but as a traveller I have suffered from this myself and therefore this is my personal guide on how to deal with Soroche.
How to Avoid Getting Altitude Sickness
– NEVER travel to cities with high altitude! (sadly not really an option for most of us travel freaks and I don’t recommend it!)
– travel slowly to high altitude cities (i.e. overland with lots of stops on the way)
– walk slowly when arriving in a new high altitude city
– sleep longer than normal (come on – you deserve a decent bit of kip now and then)
– drink LOTS of water throughout the day
– always have a bottle of water by your bedside
– try not to do to much sightseeing on your first day in a high altitude city (I arrived in La Paz at 9am and did nothing that day except lounge and relax in the hostel)
– avoid alcohol
What happens when you get Soroche?
– You feel dizzy
– You feel exhausted
– You get migraine headaches
– You just want to relax
– You find it hard to breathe normally
(these were the symptoms I had – doctors will know the full symptoms of course – others can include nose bleeds, stomach pains and extra farting)
What should you take to deal with Soroche?
Some doctors and travellers swear by “altitude sickness tablets” and to be honest, I’ve never taken them or wanted to. I prefer to let these things heal naturally if they occur. Here’s how I dealt with soroche in Bolivia and what I personally recommend doing:
– drink lots of coca tea (LOTS)
– drink lots of water throughout the day
– chew coca leaves (in fact any coca product helps)
– avoid alcohol
– avoid big meals
– relax (literally lie down and don’t move)
I did all that for one morning and afternoon and I was fine. In fact that evening I went out for drinks I felt so good again.
Our bodies are all different and deal with soroche in their own way, but this is a guide to what I did. I have only suffered from this once, and only for one day in La Paz, Bolivia.
I hope this helps you out on your journeys – don’t worry if you get soroche (altitude sickness – it’s very common). I’ll try and get a few more of these Tuesday’s Travel Problems typed up in the next few months.
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2 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Travel Problems: How to deal with Soroche (Altitude Sickness)”
When my mum came to visit us in Quito, she did all these things, but still suffered quite badly. I was fine, though. It’s funny, I guess some people are just more prone to it than others…and apparently genetics don’t have much to do with it!
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Yeah it’s hard to know Sam – the best way is just drink loads of water, coca tea and chill out – as you say it didn’t work for your Mum though. Safe travels. Jonny