How to Combat Altitude Sickness

By: Bryan Thomas, TAC Fitness & Performance Specialist

One of the major contributing factors to the symptoms of altitude sickness is an inability to maintain a proper CO2/O2 balance.  In order to extract oxygen from the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, you actually need carbon dioxide.  This is a combination of two different known effects in the body.  The Bohr effect is the effect in which carbon dioxide removes the oxygen from the hemoglobin, and the Haldane Effect which is the effect in which at higher elevations with less oxygen, your body adapts to that deficit by increasing it's dependence on CO2.  Carbon Dioxide helps to create a compound called Erythopoeitin, which is often supplemented illegally by endurance athletes. 

So what does all that mean and what can you do with it?  

Carbohydrates, as the name implies, are made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen atoms.  When they break down through the process of the krebs cycle, they produce more carbon dioxide than other macro-nutrients.  Increasing carbohydrate intake during and prior to the time of acclimation  can expedite the process substantially by increasing the utilization of the oxygen you do have available and improving the sensitivity to a good CO2/O2 balance.  

Whether planning a trip to a higher elevation, or planning a challenging hike up to a higher altitude - there are steps you can take to combat altitude sickness.  Start by meeting with a TAC fitness and performance specialist - we have the professionals you need to take your wellness into your own hands and do what you have always wanted to do.


The Aspen Clinic (TAC) is a wellness center and fitness center located in Basalt, Colorado.  We are more than a gym!  We offer consultations and coaching for all of your health needs - to make sure that your results are attainable and long-lasting.  As a health club that truly cares about the whole person, The Aspen Clinic is your first step in making wellness choices that will change your life!  

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