Drinking At High Altitude: Plus 6 Tips

Drinking At High Altitude

Whether you're a seasoned traveler or a casual adventurer, drinking at high altitude presents unique challenges. As a high-altitude based company, we'll share everything you need to know about drinking at high altitude and six tips to help you avoid the dreaded negative effects.

Drinking At High Altitude

It might be a ski destination, high elevation city, or camping trip — where high altitude can significantly impact how you feel when drinking alcohol. While altitude will not make your BAC higher, the reduced oxygen levels take a toll on your body and the combination of altitude sickness and alcohol becomes a big problem.

In our home of Colorado at 5,280 feet high, many visitors report feeling altitude sickness in the first few days, and share that they struggle to drink alcohol as it only makes them feel worse.

Do You Get Drunk Faster At Higher Elevation?

No, reported by ScienceFocus many studies have shown high altitude to have no effect on blood alcohol concentration (BAC).¹

The caveat missing we believe missing is that the combination of drinking alcohol and altitude sickness can exacerbate effects.

Alcohol Altitude Myth

Based on the research that high altitude has no effect on alcohol BAC, therefore the altitude and alcohol myth is confirmed.

However with that being said, high altitude and alcohol mixed will likely make you feel much worse. With the potential of a hangover and altitude sickness together is a recipe for disaster.

Effects Of Drinking At High Altitude

While high altitude will not alter the effects of alcohol, the effects of alcohol can worsen the experience of altitude sickness.

The negative effects of drinking alcohol are very similar to the negative effects of high altitude. One causes a hangover, the other causes altitude sickness, and symptoms are alike in many ways.

The effects of drinking alcohol at high altitudes can cause fatigue, headaches, and nausea — just like altitude sickness.

Effects of drinking alcohol at high altitudes:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • weakness
  • thirst
  • muscle aches
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • anxiety (hangxiety)
  • irritability
  • sweating

The combination of these effects of drinking alcohol at high altitude can make your experience miserable.

Does Drinking Alcohol Make Altitude Sickness Worse?

Yes, drinking alcohol can make altitude sickness worse.

This comes from the fact that altitude sickness has a set of symptoms that not only can be intense, they can be very similar to a hangover. These include altitude sickness symptoms such as headache, nausea, and fatigue.

Altitude sickness effects may include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • fatigue or tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • dizziness
  • trouble breathing
  • insomnia or sleeping issues
  • feeling ill

This concludes why the combination of drinking alcohol and the potential hangover will make altitude sickness worse.

Drinking At High Altitude Calculator

Drinking at high altitude will not effect your body alcohol content, but you should be well aware of the risks at different high altitudes.

The higher the altitude, the higher risk of altitude sickness. Therefore, this compounds how bad you might feel drinking alcohol with the potential risks of the added hangover.

According to Mountain Medicine, altitudes are categorized in three different ranges. Keep in mind, while the range altitude starts at 4,900 feet, we've heard many reports such as from Julian Klapowitz MD of altitude sickness starting as low as 4,000 feet.¹⁰ 

Altitude Range Risks:

  • High altitude - 4,900–11,500 feet
  • Very high altitude - 11,500–18,000 feet
  • Extreme altitude - 18,000+ feet

As a baseline, with any trip or adventure over 4,000 feet in elevation, you can be at a higher risk drinking.

How Much Should You Drink At High Altitude?

As outlined in our tips below, it's highly recommended to limit or avoid alcohol until you're acclimated to the high altitude.

With that in mind keep drinks minimal, 1-3, on your first day or two. Once you feel acclimated, you can drink much more without the compounding negative effects of altitude sickness.

6 Tips To Help Drinking At High Altitude

To ensure more pleasant drinking experience at high altitudes based on our history in the high altitudes of Colorado, we complied the top tips to help you drink at high altitude.

6 Tips To Help Drinking At High Altitude:

1. Maximize Hydration

When drinking at high altitude, few steps stand in front of the importance of hydration. High altitudes have been shown in research to increase fluid loss twice as fast,² while at the same time alcohol is known to be dehydrating.³

Maximize by drinking plenty of water, most experts recommended drinking half your body weight in ounces each day.

TIP: To help enhance hydration in your body, add sea salt (naturally containing minerals) to your food/drink, and use Zaca's hydration chewables that increase water absorption via glutamine.

2. Acclimate First

This is the harder tip to follow, but try acclimating first whenever possible. Yes, this means limiting or avoiding alcohol until you feel clear of any signs of altitude sickness.

This process can take a day or a few days depending on how sensitive you are to high elevations. The better you can follow this tip, the better your drinking experience will be as you will have given your body time to acclimate and adjust.

3. Support Your Liver

Alcohol is processed by the liver, and at high altitudes, your liver may already be under further stress due to the reduced oxygen levels. Research shows hypoxia (lack of oxygen) may affect liver function.⁴

With double the stress, supplement liver support to give your body the fuel it needs to better handle drinking at high altitude.

4. Get Proper Sleep

Both high altitude and alcohol are known to cause sleeping issues and even insomnia in some cases. Sleep is vital, aids recovery in the body, and even can help with blood flow and oxygen.⁵

Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and to boost melatonin production at night try to get ample sunlight during the day.

6. Take Antioxidants

Studies show oxidative stress is induced both by high altitudes,⁶ and by alcohol consumption.⁹ Antioxidants play a key with free radical damage from oxidative stress.⁸

Take antioxidants, such as glutathione which is considered the body's master antioxidant, and can help replenish your body.

To conclude, drinking at high altitude can be more enjoyable if you take precautions by following these tips. By maximizing hydration, acclimating first, supporting your liver, getting proper sleep, and taking antioxidants — you can better your high-altitude experience.

Top Supplement To Support Your Body

Altitude Supplement For Alcohol
Elevate your adventure with Zaca — a chewable to help you rehydrate, replenish, and recover faster. Our carefully crafted formula includes glutathione, the body's master antioxidant for oxidative support. In addition, Japanese Raisin is used for liver support. With a blend of powerful antioxidants and revitalizing herbs, you can bounce back faster. All conveniently packed into chewables, take 2-4 per day or as needed. Try Zaca chewable supplement today and embark on your adventures with optimal support.


1. Does altitude affect how you react to alcohol?
2. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
3. Effects of Alcohol
4. Hepatic Function at High Altitudes
5. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
6. High altitude and oxidative stress
7. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
8. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
9. Alcohol-induced oxidative stress
10. High Altitude Illness