Don’t Let Altitude Sickness Get You Down

Elevation in Breckenridge is around a staggering 10,000 feet! At higher elevation, the air pressure is lower with about 25% less oxygen than sea level. For some, this extreme elevation and “thinner air” can cause a range of symptoms related to altitude sickness. Altitude sickness varies in intensity from acute to severe and can really put a damper on your mountain vacation.

There are a variety of actions* you can take in advance and while on vacation to help manage these symptoms. Take a look at our preventative and management tips below!

*Please note that not all items listed below are suitable for everyone. While we encourage all guests to look into altitude adjustment options, please also consult your primary physician to make sure they would be appropriate for you and your lifestyle.


Altitude sickness symptoms are usually onset within approximately 12-24 hours after arriving at high-altitude. The majority of altitude sickness cases will be AMS (acute mountain sickness) with symptoms similar to a hangover. Mild and moderate symptoms of AMS are preventable, treatable, and manageable. Severe AMS, HAPE (high-altitude pulmonary edema), or HACE (high-altitude cerebral edema) require immediate medical attention.

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue & lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weakness
  • Headache or migraine
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Coordination problems
  • Caused by excess fluid on the lungs
  • Severe symptoms of AMS
  • Breathlessness even at rest
  • Elevated heart rate and body temperature
  • Caused by excess fluid on the brain and brain swelling
  • Severe symptoms of AMS
  • Difficulty walking in a straight line
  • Irrational, bizarre, or violent behavior


  • Acclimatization

    One of the best ways to prevent altitude sickness is through acclimatization. Taking your time traveling to high-altitude gives your body time to adjust to the lower pressure and oxygen. If you tend to be affected by altitude, spend a night or two in the Front Range before coming to the mountains, if possible.

  • Medication

    Your doctor may prescribe you acetazolamide (Diamox) to prevent AMS. Always consult a physician before taking medication. This article is not intended to replace medical advice.

  • Hydration

    Drink water. The air at altitude is drier, making you lose moisture more quickly. It is estimated that you need to consume approximately twice as much water at high altitudes than you do at lower elevations! Drinking as much water as possible can increase your blood oxygen levels and help to keep the symptoms of altitude sickness at bay. Electrolyte drink mixes such as Acli-Mate or Nuun may help to support hydration. Coconut water is a great option for added potassium as well!

    Avoid alcohol. When on vacation, especially when surrounded by so many amazing breweries, it can be easy to drink more than you might normally. Alcohol can exacerbate dehydration and increase your likelihood of altitude sickness. If you plan to drink, be sure to have at least eight ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage.

  • Nutrition

    Complex Carbohydrates. It’s not every day you are told to eat more carbs! Studies have shown that carbohydrates require less oxygen to break down. They will also give your body the energy it needs to adapt to high altitudes. Foods such as potatoes, brown rice, kidney beans, whole grains, quinoa, and couscous are great places to start.

    Potassium. Fill your pre-vacation diet with plenty of bananas, broccoli, avocados, tomatoes, and other potassium-rich foods. Potassium helps to balance the amount of water in your body and reduce the intensity of symptoms.

    Avoid Salty Foods. Avoid salty foods prior to visiting the mountains to support hydration.

  • Exertion

    Take it easy! Avoid over-exerting yourself for the first 24-48 hours after traveling to high-altitude. Your body is already struggling to adapt to the environmental change and expending excess energy can cause a rapid onset of symptoms. Plan to have a relaxing first day!

    Increase your fitness level. While being in shape cannot completely prevent altitude sickness, it can help!  At altitude, simple activities like walking around town or even up the stairs can be a struggle. Start taking family walks, hitting the gym, or just making time for 30 minutes of daily activity to prepare.


  • Hydration

    Hydration is key! There is no better remedy for symptoms of altitude sickness than hydration. Drinking as much water as you can, will help increase your blood oxygen levels and reduce symptoms. Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade or Pedialyte, or electrolyte mix-ins such as Acli-Mate or Nuun can help to support hydration as well. Coconut water is a great option for hydration as well as added potassium.

  • Oxygen

    Bluebird Oxygen: Bluebird is an oxygen concentrator supplier. Their concentrators supplement the body with a higher concentration of oxygen during sleep which can greatly reduce symptoms of AMS and improve your time on vacation. Every day on vacation should be a bluebird day! Bluebird offers guests of BGV a 10% discount and will deliver to your resort. Call Owner Relations at 877.453.4440 for a discount code.

    Oxygen Bars: There are several Oxygen bars in Breckenridge and beyond. O2 Lounge offers 15, 30, and 45-minute sessions with aromatherapy. Harmony Oxygen Spa offers services such as Ozone Therapy. While a concentrator is more likely to reduce symptoms long-term, oxygen bars can be a good option for symptom relief as well- not to mention a unique experience!

    Portable Oxygen: You will find several options for personal, canned oxygen in town. Options such as Boost can be found at grocery stores, gas stations, and resort markets. While not as effective as a concentrator or even oxygen bar, portable oxygen is a relatively inexpensive option to provide relief from AMS symptoms.

  • Remedies

    There are a couple of remedies that could help to treat symptoms.

    • Electrolyte drink mixes such as Acli-Mate or Nuun to support hydration
    • Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, Pedialyte
    • Coconut water
    • Potassium-rich foods
    • Ginger tea or ginger gummies can help to reduce nausea
  • Massage

    Soothe Spa at Grand Lodge on Peak 7 offers a specialized massage designed to relieve altitude issues.

    Altitude Relief Massage: Highlighting Clear My Head products, which are designed to ease sinus and headache pressure. This massage is designed to help you adjust to Summit County’s high elevation. 80-minute massage includes 30 minutes of oxygen.

    Massage Enhancement: Oxygen can be added as a massage enhancement to any of their massage offerings as well! 30 minutes of oxygen is $45 and 60 minutes is $85.

  • Rest

    Let your body rest and adapt! Pushing through your symptoms will only make them worse. Typically symptoms will alleviate within a day or two so give it time. If you have to spend a day in the hot tub, so be it! Just be sure to drink plenty of water and relax.