Skip to content, skip to search, or skip to navigation

Altitude Sickness

If you are driving from Berkeley over the Sierra Nevada, or visiting any other site at high altitude--generally above 8000 feet--without acclimatizing, you may experience Altitude Sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). blue line


The primary symptom of altitude sickness is headache. If you have a headache combined with any of the following symptoms while at altitude, you may have altitude sickness:
  • Lack of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Insomnia
More severe symptoms include fluid in the lungs and swelling of the brain. If these symptoms occur, go to lower altitude immediately.

blue line

Preventing Altitude Sickness

Taking these steps can help to prevent altitude sickness:
  • Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water or Gatorade-type drinks. Go easy on the coffee as it is a diuretic.
  • Eat many small meals with high potassium content, e.g., bananas.
Dehydration and potassium deficiency may cause fainting or more serious injury.