Shortness of breath at altitude in the mountains: is it normal?

Caution : You must consult your doctor for your health. This page presents only a personal and alternative point of view which should not be considered as an attempt to prescribe medicine.

🔥 Intermittent Breathing : Practice this technique 3 x 20 minutes a day to quickly reduce your stress and calm your mind (guaranteed result).

When you take high-altitude paths, you start to lack oxygen most of the time.

Zoom in on a particular phenomenon, which gives rise to a number of questions.

Altitude and its effects

When you go up to altitude, your body needs time to adapt.

If you didn’t know, on top of a mountain, air pressure drops which reduces the pressure of oxygen you breathe into your lungs.

Shortness of breath at altitude in the mountains

This results in less oxygen being delivered to the blood, forcing the body to compensate in other ways.

This is called altitude "hypoxia".

Altitude sickness occurs when you climb quickly in height.

The body is not given time to get used to the change in pressure.

This is how nausea, headaches or shortness of breath come.

There are several types of altitude sickness, from the simplest to the most painful:

1 / Little mountain sickness

When one expends energy to elevate, different symptoms can occur:

Shortness of breath

A rise in altitude reflects a certain effort.

Lack of air is a necessary and normal response of the body to a change in pressure.

The feeling of spinning when agitated

In the mountains, if you move your body very quickly, you can have a spinning sensation, a narrowing field of vision, and sometimes a drop in blood pressure.

The headache

The symptom that follows is naturally the headache, which is however mild.

2 / Acute mountain sickness (AMS)

By staying at altitude for a while, even reducing your physical activity, other symptoms appear:

The headache

This time it can be quite strong and therefore difficult to bear.


They happen from time to time at the start and then end up being very violent.

The decline of the will

When we vomit, we do not feel well and we want to do nothing, nor continue to go up, nor down.

Falling asleep quickly

If you rest for a few seconds on a rock, you may fall asleep without any problem.

The lack of logic

All of these symptoms lead the patient to no longer act logically, to dream and to believe himself elsewhere.

3 / Edema

Despite AMS and these symptoms, some affected individuals persist in staying aloft.

There is then a risk of edema: water collects in the lungs (pulmonary edema), or in the brain (cerebral edema).

The former is the easiest to recognize because it causes hoarse breathing and the spitting of a dewy slime.

These two cases are fatal in the short term and it is therefore essential to descend a hundred meters or even to be evacuated.

Stop feeling short of breath

Shortness of breath in the mountains is a rather common phenomenon.

However, it can be limited by properly acclimating to the altitude.

Different solutions can be implemented. Wind and cold have proven effects in combating altitude ailments.

Do not hesitate to choose a clear route and slow down your progress if it is too fast.

In addition, regular hydration has a beneficial effect on the blood.

Finally, preparing for a climb in altitude involves working on your breathing.

Loris Vitry developed the concept of intermittent breathing and this effectively releases the diaphragm.

So don't hesitate to watch his free video workshop.

❤ The ultimate guide to breathing

Intermittent Breathing : Discover the method to quickly relieve your anxiety and chronic fatigue (positive effects from the first use).

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