Addis Ababa Altitude Sickness: Complete Guide & 5 Tips

Addis Ababa Altitude Sickness

As the vibrant capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is at very high elevations that takes many visitors by surprise. As a company based in the high-altitudes of Colorado, in this comprehensive guide we'll share everything you need to know about Addis Ababa altitude and Addis Ababa altitude sickness.

Addis Ababa Altitude

Addis Ababa sits at 7,726 feet above sea level. At this elevation, Addis Ababa is considered the third-highest capital city in the world.

  • Addis Ababa altitude - 7,726 ft (2,355 m)

Located at the foot of Mount Entoto, Addis Ababa ranges in elevation including the Bole International Airport at 7,631 ft (2,326 m) to the Entoto Mountains at over 9,800 ft (3,000 m).

Ethiopia Altitude

Surprising to many, Ethiopia is one of the highest countries in the world at an average altitude of 4364 feet above sea level.

  • Ethiopia altitude - 4364 ft (1330 m)

The Abyssinian Highlands is a high central plateau in Ethiopia between 4,232 to 9,843 ft  (1,290 to 3,000 m). Ras Dashen is the highest mountain reaching 14,930 ft (4,550 m).

Is Addis Ababa Considered High Altitude?

Yes, Addis Ababa is considered high altitude.

Compared to even Denver Colorado at 5,280 feet where many visitors experience issues with the altitude, Addis Ababa is over 2,000 feet higher.

According to Mountain Medicine, the elevation of Addis Ababa is categorized as high altitude.²

Can You Get Altitude Sickness In Addis Ababa?

Yes, you can get altitude sickness in Addis Ababa.

Altitude sickness can start at 6,000 feet high, according to the University Of Michigan, and worsens the higher you go.³ Addis Ababa well surpasses this threshold at 7,726 feet.

Addis Ababa has approximately 5% less oxygen than at sea level, making it much harder to breathe and increases the chances of altitude sickness.⁴ It's best to be well prepared before beginning a trip to Addis Ababa.

Addis Ababa Altitude Sickness

Addis Ababa altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is caused by ascending to high elevations too quickly due to the lack of oxygen.

This lack of oxygen, called hypoxia, can lead to various symptoms such as headache, nausea, and extreme fatigue. With the added combination of free radical damage from oxidative stress and dehydration, the conditions can further take a toll on your body.

Symptoms of Addis Ababa altitude sickness:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling ill

Altitude sickness in Addis Ababa can typically start within 6-24 hours upon arrival.

5 Tips To Avoid Addis Ababa Altitude Sickness

Visiting Addis Ababa, whether to get a taste of Ethiopian food and culture or exploring picturesque mountains, can put you on your back. As the highest capital city in Africa, most will experience troubles with altitude sickness.

As a company with over 10 years high-altitude experience in Colorado, we'll share our best tips to help naturally avoid altitude sickness in Addis Ababa.

5 Tips To Avoid Addis Ababa Altitude Sickness:

1. Get Plenty Of Hydration

Staying well-hydrated at high altitude is utmost important. The dry air and lower oxygen levels can cause increased fluid loss through increased respiration.

The Wilderness Medical Society indicates you can lose water twice as fast at high altitude than at sea level.⁵ You'll want to get plenty of hydration when visiting Addis Ababa by drinking at least half your body weight in water.

TIP: To maximize your hydration, add sea salt (containing trace minerals) to your food/water and take Zaca's hydration chewables to enhance water absorption.

2. Optimize Your Sleep

Proper rest and sleep are essential for acclimatization to higher altitudes. Sleep has been shown to increase blood flow and help the cells get oxygen.⁶

Aim for 7-9 hours a night before and during your Addis Ababa trip. Getting plenty of natural sunlight each day can also help your body optimize melatonin production to aid in sleep quality.

3. Limit Alcohol

While it might be tempting to indulge in local drinks in Addis Ababa, consuming alcohol at high altitudes can lead to worse decreased sleep quality and dehydration risk.

If you do choose to drink alcohol, wait at least one to two days or until you feel free from any signs of altitude sickness.

4. Avoid Strenuous Activity

Engaging in strenuous physical activities, such as hiking or workouts, during the initial days of your trip can put unnecessary strain on your body.

Only do light activities such as a leisurely walks to give your body time to adjust at Addis Ababa's elevation. Take breaks often and slowly ramp up your activity level as you feel better during your trip.

5. Supplement Glutathione

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from oxidative stress. High altitude conditions have been shown to cause free radical damage,⁷ with one study suggesting glutathione was depleted from high altitudes up to 45%.⁹

Supplement glutathione to replenish your levels, as antioxidants are noted to be a promising solution.⁸

By following these five tips, you can increase your chances of avoiding altitude sickness and fully enjoy your time in Addis Ababa  — including getting plenty of hydration, optimizing your sleep, limiting alcohol, avoiding strenuous activity, and supplementing glutathione.

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1. Addis Ababa Altitude
2. Effects of high altitude on humans
3. Oxygen Levels at Altitude
4. Altitude Sickness University Of Michigan Health Service
5. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
6. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
7. High altitude and oxidative stress
8. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
9. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione