I'm going to Peru in a couple of months and worried about altitude sickness

I've read online that altitude sickness can be severe and you could actually die from it.  I'm going to be hicking Machu Picchu for about seven days.  We only have two days to acclimate to the altitude. 

I read you're supposed to take a drug called Diamox, generic name Acetazolamide, two days before the trip and the entire time you're hiking.  We are going up to 14,000 feet above sea level.

One of my mother's friends just got back from Machu Picchu and the husband got so sick from altitude sickness, that he had to be hospitalized.  I am very worried about this.  After this hike up the mountain, we are flying to the Galapagos Islands for a 20-passenger cruise for another week.  Now, this cruise was super, super expensive.  I just cannot get sick and waste all that money.  In hindsight, we probably should have done the cruise first and then the hike afterwards.  Too late now.

Was wondering if anyone has had any experience with being at high altitudes and what you did to prevent sickness.

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I have some acquaintances that climb altitudes.  The one thing they mentioned to me is walk up slowly!!!!!  Very important.  Sorry I am no more help.   

I've been to Pike's Peak in Colorado, which is over 14,000 feet above sea level.  I only got slightly queasy (pretty good, being from flat Texas).  My husband was eating a burger, totally fine.  My daughter got more queasy than I did.  I'm no help on how to control altitude sickness.  Just was going to say you'll probably be just fine.  Of course, better safe than sorry.

We ski out west every year.  Used to do two trips a year, so we've had to deal with altitude coming from the Midwest.

Anyway, hydration is important.  Stay hydrated.  Drink a fruit juice (like apple) on the plane ride there and plenty of water.

I think that alcohol might be a good thing to avoid.  I think I've heard that.

Yeah, I've decided to not drink anything for an entire month before I do this trip.  I don't want any toxins in my body at all when  ascending this mountain.  This is all new to me.  I'll make up for it on the cruise, however, I'm sure.  LOL

Thanks, Michele.  Janet actually found this picture online.  It's great.  I think it looks like the Colorado Rockies.  I could be wrong, though.


I have a friend who does some rigorous mountain climbing around the world.  And she had a nutrition regimin she followed that she was the only one in her group who got no altitude sickness.  I'll see if I can find out what she was taking.

Oh, that would be wonderful.  I need all the help I can get.  Thanks. 

I know you need to drink lots and lots of water.

Kelli, apparently she's out of the country on a climb now.  When are you leaving?  She should be back I bet in a week from now.  She was taking some kind of supplement combination.

Yeah, I'm not going till May, so there's plenty of time.  Thanks for asking for me. 


Here's what she said in two separate emails:

The only thing I use for altitude sickness is vitamins, drink LOTS of water and some homeopathic coca. Your friend will have access to lots of coca tea while he/she is there. They aren’t sure what causes altitude sickness, but I have my theories on it. Make sure he/she eats healthy, has proper nutrition, stays hydrated etc. That will be the biggest help. There is something called diamox (a prescription drug). Many people have told me it helps them. The issue is it’s a diuretic so you have to go to the bathroom a lot. This seems counter-intuitive to staying hydrated. Your friend could talk to his/her physician and get a prescription to have on hand just in case. I’ve never taken it because I’m not a huge fan of pharmaceuticals, but some swear by it.

The homeopathic coca could be very effective, but it’s not commercially available in the U.S. unless your friend can find it on the internet. This is the combination I took.

- high quality multivitamin

- omega 3

- gingko (very good for circulation and altitude)

- COQ10

- Vitamin D

- Acclimate (added this to my water bottle) – available online and at Wholefoods

- Homeopathic coca

Thank you so much, Kerry.  I started taking the Gingko about a week ago.  I read about that online.  I take vitamins all the time, including vitamin D and Omega 3.  I cannot get the coca here but may be able to acquire it in Peru (hoping).

Not sure what COQ 10 is.  May have to look into that further.  Also, Acclimate sounds very interesting.  I'll have to get some of that. 

Thanks again for your help.  I just don't want this trip ruined by being sick. 


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