What to Expect When Moving to Altitude

The things we learned moving to mile-high life.

We knew we were making a big altitude adjustment. Moving from our little Oklahoma town with an altitude of 610 feet to Colorado Springs with an altitude of over 6,000 feet, we thought we were prepared for the change. We knew the air would be dry, we knew we’d have a harder time breathing, we knew we’d get worn out more easily. Our plan? Just power through and we’d adjust. But looking back, there are definitely some things we could have done to make the transition easier. And there were some side-affects we were not prepared for at all.

The Altitude Affect

There were some issues were were surprised to run into during our adjustment in Colorado Springs.

  • Some nights it would be hard to sleep because we couldn’t breathe.
  • Our average heart rate was really high.
  • The first couple nights we felt sick to our stomachs.
  • Morning bloody noses were common.
  • The first few weeks we used Chapstick and lotion a lot to deal with dryness.

This was all in addition to getting tired more easily. It was quite a sad affair because our friends in the city brought us pizza that first night and we could barely eat it because we were so sick! Our Fitbits also tracked surprisingly high resting beats per minute for our hearts. Our Fitbits were also useful in tracking spikes in oxygen levels while we slept, which we would remember as waking up and gasping for breath.

This all sounds very scary for someone who has never been to altitude! But we absolutely loved Colorado and the mountains. There were a handful of things we learned to deal with these symptoms, and they will be put into practice next time we visit the mountains.

Solutions for Altitude Issues

Here are our supplies to make altitude adjustment easier.

  • Nasal strips to widen your nose during sleep.
  • Acclimate drink powder, coconut water, or a similar product.
  • Nasal spray.
  • Humidifier.
  • Plenty of lip balm and lotion.

One of the most irritating issues was difficult sleeping due to breathing and dryness issues. The dryness was especially bad during the winter months. We found those sticky nasal strips to be great in increasing air flow at night. During really dry days, we would used nasal spray a handful of times to keep the passages moist. That helped ward off bloody noses, and made it easier to breathe. We also had a small humidifier but wish we’d had a bigger and stronger one with us. Our lovely friends had a massive humidifier in their home.

The thing that made a big difference in our energy levels and daily breathing was a powder called Acclimate. You mix it with water and drink it 1-3 times a day to help with altitude. We felt much better drinking that, and as the months wore on we had to use it less and less. Our friends said coconut water had the same affect, but we hate the taste of that stuff! So investing in something to supplement your body’s needs it definitely a must.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let fear of an altitude change scare you off of travel or relocating to the city of your dreams. But be prepared for the changes this will have on your body. A little prep before hand goes a long way in making adjustment comfortable.

I fondly remember our movers the second day we were in Colorado Springs. One of them had moved to the city six months ago from a lower altitude, as well. We told him we’d started to feel some affects and he laughed and said, “Just wait. It’s going to get worse.”

It did. But with some good supplies and tenacity, we adjusted to the altitude, dealt with the dryness, and loved our time in Colorado!

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