Fort Collins Altitude Sickness and 7 Tips To Avoid It

Fort Collins Altitude Sickness

As one of the most popular metro cities in Colorado, Fort Collins may take visitors by surprise with altitude sickness. As a local company with high altitude experience, we'll share everything you need to know about the altitude of Fort Collins Colorado and seven tips to avoid Fort Collins altitude sickness.

Altitude Of Fort Collins Colorado

Fort Collins altitude sits at 5,003 feet high above sea level. In the front range, it's just slightly lower than the altitude of Denver at 5280 feet.

  • Fort Collins altitude - 5,003 ft (1,525 m)

Fort Collins is a beautiful metro city of Colorado with plenty to offer its residents and visitors, including a walkable downtown area, local breweries, and a variety of outdoor activities.

The many outdoor natural attractions include Horsetooth Mountain, Poudre River, Coyote Ridge (Foothills Natural Areas), Horsetooth Reservoir, and the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Altitudes of Ft Collins CO nearby areas:

  • Loveland altitude - 4,982 ft (1,519 m)
  • Horsetooth Mountain altitude - 7,259 ft (2,213 m)
  • Poudre River altitude - 4,600 to 10,755 ft (3,278 to 1,400 m)
  • Coyote Ridge altitude 5886 ft (1794 m)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park altitude - 7,860 to 14,259 ft (2,396 to 4,346 m)
  • Horsetooth Reservoir altitude - 5,430 ft (1,660 m)

At almost a mile high, Fort Collins is a location that you have to still be prepared for altitude sickness.

Is Fort Collins Considered High Altitude?

Yes, Fort Collins Colorado is considered high altitude.

The International Society for Mountain Medicine considers 4,900 to 11,500 feet as high altitude. At the lower part of this spectrum, 5,003 feet in altitude of Fort Collins is consider high altitude.⁷

Yes, you can get altitude sickness in Ft Collins CO.

A professor at the professor University of Colorado School of Medicine says the risk of altitude sickness in visitors of Denver is up to 10%. Being that Denver and Fort Collins are nearly the same in altitude, it would safely suggest a similar risk in Fort Collins.⁸

While the symptoms at these altitude might be more subtle, many visitors may never realize that the headaches, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and sleeping issues are coming from altitude sickness.

Fort Collins Altitude Sickness

The effects of Fort Collins altitude sickness are caused by the lower oxygen content of air at higher altitudes, causing hypoxia in the body.

When you travel to a high-altitude location such as Fort Collins, your body goes through changes to adapt to the decreased oxygen content, oxidative stress, and even dehydration from the dry climate.

If these changes do not occur properly or quickly enough, altitude sickness (or acute mountain sickness) may develop, such as headaches and nausea.

The symptoms of Fort Collins CO altitude sickness may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue (tiredness) or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling ill or malaise

These altitude sickness symptoms typically develop within 6-24 hours. Keep an eye out for signs of altitude sickness, and take the right precautions ahead of time to avoid it with our tips below.

Do Most People Get Altitude Sickness In Colorado?

A high percentage of visitors get altitude sickness in Colorado, due to the lack of acclimatization when first coming from sea level.

In the mountains, incidences of altitude sickness can be as high as 50% when going over 10,000 feet.¹³ In the metro areas like Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs — cases of altitude sickness will be lower, but even minor symptoms may happen without knowing it's coming from the high altitude.

7 Tips To Avoid Fort Collins Altitude Sickness

People flock to the foothills of Fort Collins CO, as there's an absolute treasure trove of outdoor activities, adventure, and natural beauty. But getting used to the altitude of Fort Collins can be difficult for those who aren’t used to it — leading to altitude sickness.

Being based out of Colorado with years of high altitude experience, we'll share our top researched tips to help you avoid Fort Collins altitude sickness.

Here's seven tips to avoid Fort Collins CO altitude sickness:

1. Don't Overdue It

The first thing you want to do is avoid over-exerting yourself in Fort Collins or in the Rocky Mountains. You might be tempted to hit all the fund activities like hike or ski, but this can actually make altitude illness worse until you acclimatize.

Avoid strenuous activities until your body has adjusted and your'e clear of any signs of altitude sickness.

2. Boost Hydration

Dehydration is one of the most common side effects of high altitudes due to increased respiration from low oxygen levels. The Wilderness Medical Society estimates that you can lose water twice as fast at high altitudes.¹⁴

Drink plenty of water before and during your trip to Fort Collins. Most recommend drinking at least half your weight in ounces of water, more if doing intense exercise.

TIP: To maximize hydration, add sea salt (electrolytes) to your water or food, and take Zaca hydration chewable tablets to help increase water absorption.

3. Gradually Ascend

Gradually ascend in altitude, as if you go to quick you'll get increase the chances of altitude sickness. This only applies if you're going into the Rocky Mountains from Fort Collins or Denver.

For example, if going to the Rocky Mountain National Park that can easily exceed heights of 8,000 feet, you should stay a night or two at least in Fort Collins to help acclimate before proceeding.

4. Take Breaks

You should take breaks when you start to feel fatigued, lightheaded or have trouble breathing. You might even want to take short breaks after just an hour of walking around at higher elevations or hiking.

Breaks will make activity less intense, and better help you acclimate.

5. Avoid Alcohol

If you're not used to the high elevation, drinking alcohol can make the symptoms of altitude sickness worse like increased headaches and fatigue. Alcohol has also been proved to lower oxygen saturation and decrease sleep quality.¹⁶

Alcohol and altitude sickness don't mix well, the best advice is to avoid or limit alcohol during your first few days in town.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Get enough sleep, you should try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night at high altitudes. This will help your body adjust more quickly to the lower oxygen level in the air.

Sleep has been seen to increase blood flow and oxygen in the body, which is key to recovery.¹⁵ Getting plenty of sunlight during the day and darkness at night can help optimize your sleep in regards to your circadian rhythms.

7. Supplement Antioxidants

High elevations can cause oxidative stress and damage on the body.¹⁷ Antioxidants can help protect your body from the effects of low oxygen levels with free radical damage on your tissues.

In India it was discovered that glutathione, your body's master antioxidant, is depleted by high altitude conditions.¹⁸ Supplement antioxidants, especially glutathione, which can help replenish your levels and fight oxidative stress.

In conclusion, follow these top researched tips to avoid Fort Collins altitude sickness — including to not overdue it, boosting hydration, gradually ascending, taking breaks, avoiding alcohol, getting enough sleep, and supplementing antioxidants.

Colorado Local-Favorite Altitude Supplement

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