ALTITUDE SICKNESS

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Altitude sickness can affect anyone. Age, gender or what kind of shape you are in have no impact on whether you will be affected by altitude sickness. Most people who come to Cusco will experience a mild form of altitude sickness during their first 24-48 hours.

These symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Problems sleeping
  • Loss of appetite

For 95%+ of travelers these symptoms will be extremely mild and will pass with time. There are some steps that you can take to mitigate and shorten the effects that high altitude have on the human body:

  • Drink plenty of water and the local coca tea
  • Take it easy for the first 12-18 hours of landing 
  • Participate in light walks 
  • Eat foods high in carbohydrates
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking 
  • Headache medication such as ibuprofen or Tylenol 
  • Altitude Medication (usually not needed, only use as an extra precaution)

We highly recommend that travelers doing a hike to Machu Picchu arrive to Cusco at least 2 full days before your hike starts. Before the hike there are a few best practices of things that you can do to mitigate the effects of Altitude Sickness and prepare you body/lungs for the trek ahead.

You should take it easy while you’re in Cusco. Participate in a few day-hikes, hang out in your hotel or walk around Cusco on your own. Don’t over-exert yourself. Drink plenty of water and Coca Tea. Coca Tea is a local tea made from the Coca leaf, which helps tremendously with acclimatization and curbing the effects of altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness comes in three forms.

  1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) - Mild. Most Common. Usually what people think of

  2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) - Severe condition of Altitude sickness

  3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) - Most severe form of altitude sickness

 

Altitude by city (ft.)

Altitude by City.png

Sources: