Ahhh, Altitude sickness… I had a mild experience with it a few years ago in Colorado (link back), and wrote a post about preventing it. You would think that when I went to Quito, Ecuador I would be ready for it! I was good for the first few days.
My first few days in Quito I took it easy, made sure I walked slow even though I did a lot of walking. I kept myself hydrated too. I had some trouble sleeping, and a little trouble with headaches, but it wasn’t much different from the headaches and insomnia I get at home.
Then the third night in Quito I was in a rush and took a fast walk around town. The following day I was getting back to my old ways. I wasn’t exactly running around town, but my slower pace went back to normal, I might have even run a block here or there. That night I thought I was dying.
I had a HORRIBLE headache, I was nauseous. I was so sick I didn’t think I would be able to get myself dressed in the morning to leave for the Galapagos. I took some Advil and a friend suggested I take some motion sickness pills (the internet suggested that was a waste of time). I took the motion sickness pills and within an hour or two I felt partially better. At least better enough to slowly get myself ready in the morning to get the heck out of Quito and back to sea level in the Galapagos.
The moral of the story – It’s good to plan time at high altitude to be lower activity days, allow extra time to get around and know the symptoms of altitude sickness. Altitude Sickness can be really bad, even when you think you’ve taken care of yourself and gotten past the hump. Make sure you take time to slow down and rest so your body can properly adjust.
Signs of altitude sickness:
Loss of appetite
Shortness of breath