Altitude Sickness and Kids: How to Prevent and Help Your Child Deal with Altitude Sickness

A holiday in the mountains is always something very appealing and attractive. However, something that sometimes frights parents of children preparing to travel to high places, is the so famous Altitude Sickness, also known as Moutain Sickness or, if you go to Peru or Bolivia, as Soroche.

No one wants their holidays spoiled and, in particular, no one wants their children to suffer any discomfort, particularly in this situation, from the consequences of Altitude Sickness. In our case, what led us to investigate this occurrence was the trip to Peru, in particular to Machu Picchu, which led us to try to collect as much information about Altitude Sickness, trying to know what it was, what caused it, how to prevent and, more than in the case of adults, what would be the reaction of the children because, as usual, our son, 7 years old at the time, would accompany us on this trip.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can guarantee 100% that adults and children will not suffer from Altitude Sickness when at high altitudes, particularly at more than 2400 meters when the first symptoms begin to appear. However, there is the possibility of seeking to prevent and, when it does not work, to help overcome more quickly and in a less painful way for children and adults.

What is Altitude Sickness?

Altitude Sickness is, explained in reduced form, a malaise caused by the decrease of the quantity of oxygen in the air. That is, as we go up, the amount of oxygen in the air decreases and, generally from the 2,400 meters, this can produce unpleasant effects on the people.

One question that has no real answer is the reason why some people suffer from these unpleasant symptoms with greater or lesser intensity, and others do not suffer any symptoms at all. However, the longer you climb, the more likely you are to suffer, and as on our trip to Machu Picchu, we would stay for a few days in the city of Cusco, which is about 3400 meters away. For us, who live in the city of Lisbon, near sea level, and before we go to Cusco, we would be in the city of Lima, also coastal would be a huge change, so we have tried to study this issue with seriousness.


As we said earlier, Altitude Sickness will have consequences that may or may not affect many of us, and this applies to both adults and children's. However, the good news is that studies show that there is a greater likelihood that an adult will feel the consequences of Altitude Sickness than a child, which is great news because we prefer to always be undergoing this discomfort than our son's. Despite the lower probability, there are always some strategies that help you deal better with the consequences of Altitude Sickness, decrease your discomfort, and overcome it more quickly. Let's talk a little about them:

- When we travel there is always the desire to reach our destination and explore it greedily, but when you reach a destination at a high altitude, you will have to reserve in your schedule time to let your body get used to the new conditions. On the first, second day you will have to go slowly and respect the rhythm of your body. No hard work, no big ups, and no runs. When you feel tired, stop, relax, and breathe slowly and deeply, helping your child to follow these "rules" as well. We know that for children it may be difficult to ask them to stop but it is important that the whole family look for "go slow". Take some time to lie down to watch a movie, quiet activities ... taking it easy is rule number one.

- Keeping yourself hydrated will be important to prevent or avoid the symptoms of Altitude Sickness. Always have water with you and encourage your children to drink frequently. Sodas are always something to avoid as they are not the best way to hydrate. Water is always the best alternative as well as natural juices and tea. In addition to the general advantage of the hot tea, that help in digestion, you will often see the tea muña, that is even better for digestion, something that can be harder in the first times in altitude. You will also find out that, in places like Peru and Bolivia, you will have the chance to drink the famous coca tea. Coca tea is widely used by adults in Peru and Bolívia and there are those who recommend it for children. We did not give it to our child, just out of fear, but we gave some candy with coca made for children. If you choose to give your children coca tea, do not forget that children's tea will have to be weaker than what the ones that adults drink.

- Something you'll often see on sale in many high-altitude cities is tiny oxygen cans that, when the first Altitude Sickness symptoms are appearing, you can give the child a few seconds to breath (and also to the adults), and the symptoms tend to subside or disappear quickly. Many hotels in elevated locations are also often equipped with oxygen cylinders when needed. When you feel this need, yours or your child, seek help from the staff at the hotel where you are staying. 
Picture from OxiShot Perú
- The cold also does not help, and when in high altitudes, can contribute to the increase of the symptoms of Altitude Sickness, so we recommend that you always wear appropriate warm clothing adapted to the temperature where you will be and always look using it in multiple layers, the best way to prevent the cold.

- We have not used it but several people advise the use of ibuprofen in the case of Altitude Sickness symptoms, especially headache. However, do not forget that ibuprofen is medicine and any use of medicines should always be performed after consultation and medical advice.

- When the symptoms become severe, we recommend that you seek to descend from the height and take the adult or child to a hospital or medical center as soon as possible. Although rare, there are cases of Altitude Sickness that can be dangerous, so it is better to prevent and search for specialized help. 

How to prevent altitude sickness in toddlers and kids?

There are no 100% effective remedies to cure Altitude Sickness, but certain strategies can actually help reduce symptoms or even prevent them at 100%. Let's talk a little about these strategies.

Again, we refer to the need to talk to the doctor who follows your child before making your trip, better than anyone else, he will know the child's medical condition and will know the appropriate recommendations before starting the trip.

Something we would also like to convey is that children up to 3 months should not be subjected to high altitudes as well as children with specific medical conditions, hence again we mention the need to talk to your doctor before you to the trip with your child's. 

- One of the most effective strategies you can use is to let your body settle in slowly, that is, to stay at an intermediate altitude before moving to your final destination. Let us give our example. The gateway for many visitors to Machu Picchu is the city of Cusco, which is about 3400 meters high. However, in order to make life easier for all of us, instead of staying in Cusco, we left this part of the trip a few days later, and when we arrived at the airport, we took a taxi directly to the city of Ollantaytambo. about 2790 in height, where we stayed overnight for 3 nights and used it as a base for our trip to Machu Picchu. It may not seem like much, but 600 meters of altitude can make a lot of difference, and this was a great way to get our body used to the altitude. 
- Another recommendation is for those who move to high altitudes by car. Try to take frequent breaks and be very careful about the curves, which often serve as a facilitator of nausea and discomfort.

- Give your child light foods before and during the trip, especially hydrocarbonates such as bread, cereals, pastes, and promote frequent ingestion of fluids, especially water.
Chicken Soup is always a great option 

- Although difficult, try to talk to the child about the need to avoid many run-ins in the early days. Take with you a set of quiet games to be able to make a family, some movie to see together... Prepare your child for the need for fewer runs and efforts. Also in the same direction, prepare for the whole family more relaxing activities for the first two days in altitude, respect and let the body get used to the changes.

- Try to sleep at lower altitudes than you have during the day. For example, if you took a ski vacation, try to do your days activities at a higher altitude than the place where you will spend the night.


You have your dream vacation all planned, but are you afraid of Altitude Sickness effects on your child? Do not have it, go ahead and enjoy yourself. In most cases, the symptoms will only be very slight and often children feel even less than adults. However, it is important to take certain precautions and cautions, such as those throughout our article.

Traveling with children is wonderful, and your mountain holiday with your son becomes even more special when we see their joy. However, do not forget the importance of talking to your doctor and, after that, enjoy your vacations! 

We hope that our article will help you plan your trip and if you still do not have a place to stay, we always do our reservations with booking, they are our partners and it's with them that we get the best deals. You can look for the best deals in your destiny by clicking here, it will not cost you any money and, it helps us to support our blog.

We would also like to invite you to give your opinion and questions and, in case you have already traveled to a place with high altitude and suffer from altitude sickness, let us know what you think is the best way to prevent it and to deal with it. Thanks for your visit to our Non Stop Family Travel Blog, come back often and, if you liked our article, do not forget to share it with your friends.

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3 comentários

  1. First of all I would appreciate your efforts as you share the blog for family rather than just promoting to great stuff. Its quite good thing because most of the people dont know that what are things they should keep in mind when they are travelling with kids. So now I hope whoever read your blog will get some great tips and keep the point in the mind Click here for more information.

  2. Nice article and this is really impressive. Such a wonderful adventure. Big thanks for sharing this.

  3. There is a saying my mom use to say, "prevention is better than cure". first , we all know kids love playing alot especially the small ones. It good to always teach them a little hygiene. watch your hand before and after, fix your bedding in the morning, open your rooms windows for ventilation and so on.