5 Tips To Avoid Chile Altitude Sickness
Are you planning a trip to Chile soon? Before you set off on your vacation, you should know that many people experience altitude sickness when traveling in this region. With years of high altitude experience, we will discuss everything you need to know about Chile altitude sickness and tips how to avoid it.
Chile altitude is on average 6,138 feet (1871 m) high above sea level. It is a long and narrow country that stretches along the western coast of South America.
- Chile altitude average 6138 feet (1871 m)
In comparison to Chile's average altitude of 6138 feet, Denver Colorado sits at 5280 feet in altitude. Chile has a diverse range of landscapes and climates, with some areas reaching elevations of over 22,837 feet (6,960 m).
Here are some of the areas in Chile that have high altitudes:
Andes Mountains: The Andes Mountains run the length of Chile, with some peaks reaching very high elevations with risks of altitude sickness. This range includes popular destinations such as the Aconcagua at 22,837 feet (6,960 m) in elevation, the highest peak in the Americas, and the volcano Llullaillaco at 22,109 feet (6,739 m) in elevation, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world.
Atacama Desert: Located in northern Chile, the Atacama Desert is the second driest place on earth. It has elevations of up to 16,570 feet (5,050 m) and is home to several high-altitude towns such as San Pedro de Atacama and Calama.
Patagonia: Patagonia, located in southern Chile, is known for its rugged and wild landscapes. It includes the Torres del Paine National Park, which has elevations of up to 8,202 feet (2,500 m) and is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Ski Resorts: Chile has several ski resorts located in the Andes Mountains, such as Valle Nevado, Portillo, and Termas de Chillán, which have skiing elevations of up to 10,860 feet (3,310 m). These resorts are popular destinations for skiers and snowboarders during the winter months.
Volcan Osorno: Volcan Osorno is a stratovolcano located in the Los Rios Region, it has an elevation of 8,701 feet (2,652 m) above sea level.
Ojos del Salado: Ojos del Salado is an active stratovolcano and the highest volcano in the world, it's located in the Antofagasta Region and has an elevation of 22,615 feet (6,893 m) above sea level.
Parinacota: Located in Lauca National Park, Parinacota is considered one of the highest towns in the world at 14,400 feet (4,400 m) high.
Keep in mind that high altitude can affect people differently, so it's important to take the necessary precautions against altitude sickness when visiting these areas and to listen to your body.
Do You Get Altitude Sickness In Chile?
Yes, you can get altitude sickness in Chile.
According to the University of Michigan you can start to get altitude sickness starting at 6,000 feet,⁴ and Chile has an average altitude of 6,138 feet (1871 m) throughout the country.
The risk of altitude sickness increases as the elevation increases, so it's more likely to occur in places with higher altitudes. Chile is a country that has a wide range of landscapes and climates, with some areas at seat levels and other areas reaching elevations of over 22,837 feet (6,960 m).
Some popular tourist destinations such as the Andes Mountains, Atacama Desert, Patagonia, and ski resorts will have high altitudes and therefore, people visiting those places could be at high risk of getting altitude sickness.
Chile Altitude Sickness
Chile altitude sickness, also known locally as soroche or acute mountain sickness, is a condition that can affect people who travel to high-altitude destinations.
Altitude sickness is caused by the lack of oxygen (called hypoxia) at high elevations and can occur when the body is unable to adjust to the change in altitude quickly enough. Low oxygen can lead to hypoxia causing physiological stress, oxidative stress, increased respiration, and dehydration.
The symptoms of Chile altitude sickness can range from mild to severe, and can include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and loss of appetite. These symptoms include the following:
Headache: One of the most common symptoms of altitude sickness, a headache can be a dull or intense pain, often accompanied by nausea and dizziness.
Fatigue: Altitude sickness can cause fatigue and tiredness, which can further exacerbate symptoms.
Shortness of breath: As the body struggles to get enough oxygen at high altitudes, shortness of breath can occur, which can be accompanied by rapid breathing or panting.
Nausea and Loss of Appetite: Nausea and loss of appetite can occur as a result of altitude sickness, which can make it difficult to eat and drink.
Dizziness: Altitude sickness can cause dizziness or lightheadedness, which can be accompanied by a feeling of disorientation or confusion.
Insomnia: Altitude sickness can cause difficulty in sleeping and insomnia can occur.
Rapid heartbeat and chest tightness: People might experience rapid heartbeat and chest tightness as their body struggles to get enough oxygen.
It's important to always be prepared and aware of the risks of altitude sickness when traveling to high-altitude destinations such as Chile. By following the recommended tips below and being aware of the symptoms, you can reduce your risk of altitude sickness and enjoy your trip to Chile to the fullest.
5 Tips To Avoid Chile Altitude Sickness
Chile is a wonderful destination for tourists who want to explore spectacular scenery and landscapes, and is mountainous country with some of the highest peaks in South America.
But like any other mountainous country, you'll have your share of altitude sickness (soroche) issues. As a company based in Colorado, we have years of experience and research with high altitudes.
If you're planning on visiting this beautiful country, we'll share our best tips to help you avoid Chile altitude sickness.
Here's five tips to avoid Chile altitude sickness:
1. Gradual Ascent
The best way to avoid altitude sickness is to gradually increase your exposure to higher altitudes over several days instead of going straight from sea level to high altitudes in one day.
For example if you fly into Chile's most popular airport in Santiago, Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport (SCL), you'll be at only 1,555 feet (474 m). You'd want to drive or fly to a your next destination that isn't much higher than 8,000 feet, like San Pedro de Atacama at 7,900 feet (2,407 m). This helps your body acclimate gradually, therefore adjust better.
If possible, arrive at your destination two days before you need to start climbing mountains or hiking through high-altitude terrain at 10,000 to 14,000 feet and beyond. And if you feel altitude sickness coming on, you can help minimize it by starting to descend in altitude.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water before and during your Chile trip so that you don't get dehydrated.
The Wilderness Medical Society states that via increased respiration at high altitudes, you lose water twice as fast than at sea level.⁷
Hydration is also shown to improve oxygenation in the body.⁶ Based on the experts advice, you'll need at least half a gallon (2 liters) of fluid daily at high elevations — more if you're exercising or it's hot outside.
To maximize hydration, add sea salt (electrolytes) to your water/food, and take Zaca's hydration tablets
to increase water absorption.
3. Get Plenty Of Rest
It's best not to exercise or do too much activity when you first arrive at your Chile destination, and get plenty of rest.
The air at high altitudes contains less oxygen, which means that your body has to work harder to breathe normally. Any strenuous activity can prolong your body's ability to adjust to the altitude.
Sleep has also been proven to the secret to recovery — OrthoCarolina confirms it helps increase blood flow and oxygen —therefore making sleep critical to altitude adjustment too.⁸
Take breaks or naps to maximize rest during the day, and get optimal sleep during the night, 7-9 hours is usually most recommended.
4. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol is dehydrating, which makes a bad combo when it comes to altitude sickness.
Dehydration from alcohol can cause headaches and fatigue, which is very similar to the symptoms of altitude sickness. Alcohol has also been found to lower oxygen saturation, which can worsen sleep and altitude adjustment.⁹
So when you're traveling in Chile, don't drink alcohol during the first 24 hours after arrival at high altitude. And limit your consumption until you know you're clear of altitude sickness symptoms.
5. Take Glutathione
Glutathione is known as the mother of all antioxidants, and play a key role in fighting free radicals which is caused by high altitudes.
It was found in research that high altitude conditions can actually lower glutathione in the body.
- A study out of India revealed high altitude to lower glutathione by 45% in the body.¹⁰
If you're planning a trip to Chile, you should supplement glutathione
throughout your trip to replenish you glutathione levels.
In conclusion, follow these top researched tips to avoid Chile altitude sickness — which includes ascending gradually, staying hydrated, getting plenty of rest, avoiding alcohol, and taking glutathione.
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1. Chile Altitude And More
2. Patagonia Chile Elevation
3. Atacama Desert Chile
4. Altitude Sickness University Of Michigan Health Service
5. Effects of high altitude on humans
6. Tips to Boost Your Oxygen Saturation Level at Home
7. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
8. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
9. Effects of Alcohol
10. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
Geography Of Chile And Elevation