Effects of Alcohol at High Altitude

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Drinking alcohol at sea level can have serious consequences. The effect of alcohol on the body is magnified at heights over 5,280 feet, one mile.

Significance

  • The blood absorbs alcohol quickly, interfering with the absorption of oxygen by hemoglobin. This effect is magnified by high altitude. In other words, drinking alcohol at high altitudes reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain.

Effects

  • It is estimated that one drink at high altitude will have the same effects on the body as three drinks taken at sea level.

Considerations

  • Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body. High altitude causes dehydration. Dehydration dramatically increases when drinking alcohol in high altitudes.

Potential

  • Both alcohol and high altitude reduce reaction times. Drinking alcohol and driving in high altitudes increases the likelihood of an accident.

Identification

  • Symptoms of high altitude sickness are increased by alcohol consumption. Victims suffer headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite and possibly vomiting.

Prevention/Solution

  • People traveling to a high altitude should refrain from drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours before they arrive.

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