Switzerland Altitude Sickness: Comprehensive Guide & 6 Tips To Prevent

Switzerland Altitude Sickness: Comprehensive Guide & 6 Tips To Prevent

Switzerland is a breathtakingly beautiful country known for its majestic mountains, but those high mountains come with risk of altitude sickness. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the altitudes of Switzerland and six tips to prevent Switzerland altitude sickness.

Switzerland Altitude

Switzerland sits at an average elevation of 4,429 feet (1350 m). These altitudes puts Switzerland as one of the highest countries in the world.

  • Switzerland altitude average - 4,429 feet (1350 m)

Interesting enough, Switzerland has 48 mountains with peaks exceeding 4000 meters (13,123 ft). The closest place to this is Colorado with 58 peaks over 14,000 feet.

Elevations In Switzerland

Switzerland boasts a multitude of breathtaking mountain peaks, each offering unique experiences and panoramic views. Many visitors flock to Switzerland to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and mountaineering.

With the highest peak of Dufourspitze at 15203 feet (4,634 m) and Mont Blanc at 15,770 ft (4,807 m) of the Swiss Alps, and its many ski resort — the heights can be a daunting inexperience with risk of altitude sickness. 

Here are some popular destinations and their respective altitude levels:

  • Swiss Alps average altitude - 5,600 ft (1,700 m) 
  • Dufourspitze altitude -  15,203 ft (4,634m)
  • Mont Blanc altitude - 15,770 ft (4,807 m)
  • Dom altitude - 14,911 ft (4,545 m)
  • Liskamm altitude - 14,852 ft (4,527 m)
  • Weisshorn altitude - 14,783 ft (4,506 m)
  • Matterhorn altitude - 14,691 ft (4,478 m)
  • Zermatt altitude - 12,792 ft (3899 m)
  • Jungfrau altitude - 13,642 ft (4,158 m)

These are among the common high-altitude mountains that are popular in Switzerland.

Is Switzerland Considered High Altitude?

Up there with countries like Nepal, Chile, China, and Peru, Switzerland is considered high altitude on average in comparison to most countries.

Mountain Medicine considers the category of high altitude to start at 4,900 feet, which qualifies the Swiss Alps.⁴ The Swiss Alps of Switzerland average 5,600 to 14,911 feet above sea level (1,700 to 4,545 m).

Can I Get Altitude Sickness In Switzerland?

Yes, you can get altitude sickness in Switzerland.

Even at the average altitude of Switzerland at 4,429 feet (1350 m), you can get altitude sickness. But your risk can go up substantially when visiting the mountains such as the Swiss Alps with 48 peaks over 4000 meters and its many ski resorts like Zermatt.

Follow our steps below to help prevent altitude sickness on your visit to Switzerland.

Switzerland Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, also known as altitude illness in Switzerland, is caused by the low oxygen levels at higher altitudes.

The high elevations cause physiological and oxidative stress on the body, which leads to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea. In addition the air can be colder and dryer causing dehydration that can further exacerbate issues.

Symptoms of Switzerland altitude sickness:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling ill

Symptoms of altitude sickness in Switzerland can develop within 6-24 upon arrival, so it's best to be prepared ahead of time.

6 Tips To Help Prevent Switzerland Altitude Sickness

Preventing altitude sickness is crucial for enjoying your visit to Switzerland and its many high-altitude destinations.

As a company based in Colorado, we have over a decade of high-altitude experience and research. We'll share our best tips to help prevent Switzerland altitude sickness and make the most of your Swiss adventure.

Here Are Six Effective Tips To Help Prevent Switzerland Altitude Sickness:

1. Ascend Slowly

One of the most effective ways to prevent altitude sickness is to ascend slowly, simply avoid going too high too fast. This allows you body to acclimate gradually and puts less stress on the body.

For example, if you're planning to ski at Zermatt (5,310 ft, 1,620 m), spend the first few nights in town before exploring the higher altitude mountain peaks reaching (12792 ft, 3899 m)

2. Get Plenty Of Hydration

Its been found that your body can lose water twice as fast in high elevations partially due to increased respiration.⁶ Get plenty of hydration by drinking at least half your body weight in water per day.

TIP: To maximize your hydration, you can add sea salt (containing natural electrolytes) to your food or drink, and use Zaca chewables tablets that help increase water absorption via glutamine.

3. Rest & Sleep Well

In the elevations of Switzerland it's vital to get proper rest and sleep. Sleep is quoted as the secret ingredient to recovery, and even found to help oxygen and blood flow in the body.⁷

Experts commonly recommend 7-9 hours of sleep a night for optimal rest. Another step you can take is exposing yourself to plenty of natural sunlight during the day which can help sleep quality and melatonin production.

4. Avoid Strenuous Activity

Overexertion can cause undue stress on your body and lengthen recovery time.
It's best to avoid strenuous activity your first few days in the higher altitudes of Switzerland. Whether you plan to ski, hike, or explore, if you can wait a few days for you to be better acclimatized and take frequent breaks when doing the activities.

5. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can have even more adverse effects at high altitudes. Alcohol acts as a diuretic that can be dehydrating, it lowers oxygen saturation in the body, and can decrease sleep quality.⁸

It's best to abstain from or limit alcohol until you feel acclimated in Switzerland.

6. Take Antioxidants

Research has revealed that oxidative stress at high altitudes is a common threat.⁹ A study from India showed antioxidants to be depleted in high altitudes, specifically glutathione which is considered the body's master antioxidant.¹¹

Taking antioxidants have be proven to be effective, and adding glutathione can also raise levels and support your free radical defenses.¹⁰

To be best prepared, follow these outlined tips for Switzerland altitude sickness prevention — which includes ascending slowly, getting plenty of hydration, resting and sleeping well, avoid strenuous activity, limiting alcohol consumption, and taking antioxidants.

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1. Swiss Alps Elevation
2. Switzerland Elevation
3. Jungfrau Elevation
4. Effects of high altitude on humans
5. List Of Countries By Average Elevation
6. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
7. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
8. Effects of Alcohol
9. High altitude and oxidative stress
10. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
11. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione