Staying Hydrated at High Elevations: Tips to Prevent Dehydration

How altitude affects hydration levels

Altitude affects hydration levels due to decreased air pressure, less oxygen, humidity, and moisture. This can lead to dehydration during strenuous activities like hiking, mountain climbing, skiing, or traveling by plane.

Breathing at higher altitudes can cause more water loss, making it harder to stay hydrated. Living in a high-altitude area can help your body adjust over time, but travelers may need to take extra precautions.

Recognizing dehydration symptoms at high elevations

Signs of dehydration at high elevations include rapid, labored breathing, headaches, nausea, dizziness, darkly-colored urine, chapped lips, and dry skin.

Dehydration symptoms may be less noticeable when engaging in activities like skiing. It's important to replenish fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration at high altitudes.

It can take the body one to three days to acclimate to a new altitude, so hydration should be a priority even if you feel fine.

Preventing altitude-related dehydration

Prevention is key to avoiding altitude-related dehydration. Consuming hydrating foods like watermelon, apples, or cucumbers can help.

Pre-hydrating before reaching a high-altitude destination is crucial. Drinking electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte can quickly boost hydration and replenish key minerals.

Avoid alcohol, as it contributes to dehydration at high altitudes.

Exercising at high altitudes: Highest risk of dehydration

Exercising in high altitudes leads to the most dehydration in the shortest time. Breathing more rapidly at higher altitudes can cause fluid loss through respiration.

Increased urination frequency during exercise can also contribute to dehydration. Carrying fluids and consuming carbohydrates during exercise at high altitudes can help prevent dehydration.


Maki Yazawa. (July 20, 2023). High Altitude = Higher Risk of Dehydration. Here’s How To Avoid It if You’re Exercising, Traveling, or Boozing Well Above Sea Level.

Content Restricted To Members