Hiking up very high mountains is a surreal feeling that can only be described through experience. As elevation builds, oxygen supply reduces and you may find it more difficult to breathe. Here are 3 simple hacks for how to conserve your oxygen supply and breathe better while at high elevations.
1. Breathe Into Cupped Hands
If you find yourself hyperventilating at higher elevations, this means that your body is struggling to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide effectively. When this happens, you can simply breathe into cupped hands or into a covered object such as a brown paper bag. This will help you re-breathe your own carbon dioxide, motivating your body to take in more oxygen. It’s all a science related to gas exchange and while it may be a little bit difficult to grasp the concept, it works! Try it the next time you find yourself gasping for air while hiking among the clouds.
2. Get Into a Good Position
If you’re hungry for air while at higher altitudes, it may be tempting to lie down since the decrease in oxygen might make you weaker. But, if you’re looking to breathe better, you need to position yourself in a way that will allow for optimal chest expansion. This means positions that don’t press down on your chest or your back, the anatomical regions of your lungs. So no lying down! Your best bet would be to sit down straight without leaning your back on anything or to sit down bent over with your head resting on your knees or on a boulder. Even though nothing is pressing down on your chest while standing, this position isn’t the best when you’re finding it hard to breathe. Low oxygen may cause you to experience dizziness and muscle twitching, which might cause you to fall and hurt yourself if you’re standing.
3. Grab Portable Oxygen
There are now a wide array of portable oxygen cans on the market. These cans are specialized for hikers to use while at very high altitudes. Stashing a few of these cans in your backpack is definitely a great idea if you want to breathe better when you’re hiking. Portable oxygen for hikers isn’t expensive. Some of the most inexpensive brands run from just $10 per can.
Breathe Better While Hiking
If you still find yourself struggling to breathe even after using some of these better breathing hacks, you should come down the mountain. As you get to lower altitudes, your breathing will most likely improve. However, if you’re still taking shallow breaths on the mainland, it’s time to see a healthcare provider. With reliable travel health insurance, you can visit a clinic in the vicinity regardless of if you’re a local to the area. After getting medical attention, you should be able to go up some mountains and enjoy the great outdoors once more!
Planning a hiking trip abroad? Make sure you are prepared with rabies, typhoid and other key vaccinations from Passport Health. Call or book online to schedule your appointment today.
Ese Agboh is a student nurse who wants to specialize in pediatric nursing and wound care. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing articles related to medicine and the pathophysiology of communicable diseases. Ese currently lives and studies on the east coast of the United States.