High Altitude Remedies

Mountain sickness, also referred to as “soroche” in Spanish, is a common problem experienced by some travellers who arrive in cities like Cusco, the gateway city to Machu Picchu (11,200 ft/3414 m) in Peru. Your fitness does not determine how you will react. Surprisingly, people over the age of 50 have a slightly lower rate of sickness.  Remedies include medication, which have mixed results and coca leaf, grown by locals. The Coca leaf is consumed as a tea and chewed by people who live in the Andes Mountains in South America. Coca is part of the culture of the Andes Mountains, however the only “cure” for altitude sickness is to adapt or descend.  Modern medicine can treat the symptoms but not without side effects in some cases.    “Public” oxygen tanks are available in many Cusco hotels and can relieve symptoms temporarily.  Most travellers get relief from ordinary pain relievers and are on their way to exploring the sites within a few hours.  Quito in Ecuador is slightly lower in altitude so that altitude symptoms are less noticeable and less likely to need treatments – so it is not common to find oxygen tanks in hotels.

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