Saturday, August 09, 2008

Don't let Denver's altitude make you sick!

The indispensable Denver Post has tips to ease the adjustment to the thinner air (17% less oxygen, an element scientists say is necessary for human life, than at sea level) and avoid altitude sickness while you're in town for the Democratic National Convention.

Symptoms of altitude sickness, the piece notes, include shortness of breath, throbbing headache, and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. A few of the better tips:

Take it slow

A slow ascent is one way to prevent altitude sickness, but this may not be practical if you're flying direct to Denver International Airport. Still, try to give your body a break and take it easy once you land.


The yogic breath exercise called pranayama can increase the amount of oxygen in your blood. One method, explained by online resource, involves 3 steps. 1) Sit with dignity and take long, slow, deep breaths through the nostrils . . .


Gingko enhances circulation, which means more blood gets to your brain and to your extremities. More blood means more oxygen, which is how some researchers think gingko helps alleviate the affects of thinner air. . . .

Listen to your body

You don’t need the Colorado Guide to tell you that rest and sleep will help you adjust to the elevation. That sluggish, exhausted feeling? Those drooping eyelids and dragging feet? That’s your body’s way of telling you to get some shut eye – probably the most helpful thing you can do.

All these will help, of course, but, being a long-time Denverudlian, the D-blog has a few good ones too:

Smoke cigarettes

Body whining about the altitude? Give it something to whine about. Soon as you get into town, buy a carton of Marlboros. Smoke one right after the other (Denver, in case you didn't know, allows smoking in all buildings, public and private).

Drink, drink, drink

Morning to morning--cheap vodka, Jim Beam, Pabst Blue Ribbon, cutesy martinis, fortified wine--doesn't matter what, just so you're pounding every waking moment. (Denver, in case you didn't know, allows drinking (straight from the bottle, even!) in all buildings, public and private.)

Don't eat

The whole time you're here, don't eat anything. Scientists say this will help, but refuse to say how.


Self-bleeding two pints of blood a day over the first three days at altitude can help ameliorate the symptoms of altitude sickness, scientists say without offering evidence. Many gift shops along the 16th Street Mall sell souvenir penknives and blood basins for this express purpose. (My basin bears the legend: "Denver: The 'Smiles High' City!")

Smash windows, overturn cars, set fires

Won't help in the least, but it's a party in the streets, man!

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