President's Rx: Altitude Sickness

Tibet, Nepal and Machu Picchu, Peru, top Forbes' list of "Six High-AltitudeVacations to Take While You Can." This week, Dr. Tedd L. Mitchell addresses the steps travelers need to take before their heads areliterally in the clouds.

Whether you'replanning on cooling off this summer at a Colorado ski resort or taking a trek overa mountain pass, it's smart to take special care at high-altitudes. Altitudesickness can be dangerous if you're unaware of its symptoms and how to treatit.

According to the InternationalSociety for Mountain Medicine, altitude sickness happens most often when peoplewho are not used to high altitudes go quickly from lower altitudes to 8,000 feet or higher.

Altitude sickness occurs when you cannot get enough oxygenfrom the air at high altitudes. This adjustment often causes headache, loss ofappetite and trouble sleeping. Mild cases may subside in 12 hours to four dayswith plenty of rest and water.

If your symptoms are moderate to severe and you have troublewalking straight, go down at least 1,500 feet. Thebest treatment for altitude sickness is to go to a lower altitude.

It is possible to prevent altitude sickness by taking your time when you go tohigh altitudes, using medicine in advance and eating certain foods like bread,cereal and pasta.