Altitude Problems in the Mile-high City

Denver’s moniker of being the Mile High City is rightfully earned. Denver’s over 5,000 feet of elevation comes with a few problems, but these can easily be solved with minimal effort.

Altitude Problems

If you’ve lived in the city for a few months, you probably have adjusted by now. However, if you’re new to the city, you might experience a little altitude sickness. The dry air can cause your sinus problems to flare up. Still, you can use humidifiers or saline sprays. If those don’t do the trick, you should try consulting a specialist. Drier air also means you need to increase your water intake by almost twice what you usually drink to prevent dehydration. The thinner air also puts a lot of strain on your body, especially when exercising. Even if you’re used to running marathons, don’t expect to run your usual 10 miles on your first weeks immediately. The thinner air is one of the reasons Denver sports teams do remarkably well in home games. It takes time to acclimatize, but once you do, even if you move to a lower altitude for a month or two, it only takes a couple of days to adjust.

Too Much Sun

Denver and the rest of Colorado has one of the lowest incidents of cancer per capita in the nation. However, when it comes to skin cancer, it currently has the highest. Colorado has the highest average elevation of all the states, exposing it to higher concentrations of ultraviolet (UV) light. Harmful UV rays from the sun are the leading cause of skin cancers, and UV concentrations increase with elevation. Every 1,000 feet of elevation increases UV concentrations by 6-7 percent. With Denver standing at over 5,000 feet, residents get bombarded with 30-35 percent more UV. Stay in the shade, wear a hat, and use much sunscreen. If you need to exercise outside, do it early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Car Issues

You won’t be getting the rated performance on your car at high altitudes. Cars usually lose three percent of their engine power for every 1,000 feet, so expect a 15 percent drop in horsepower. High altitudes also allow you to use low-octane fuel, which wouldn’t be a problem unless you drive to lower elevations. If you do make trips down, you might need to flush your car’s fuel system once you get back. The changing air pressure will also affect your tires, so make sure to adjust your tire pressure on the way back. One option you should seriously consider is window tinting. Not the usual tints, but UV filtering films. Your daily drives might not take long, but even the few minutes of sun exposure every day accumulates enough damage to increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

Living high takes a bit of adjusting. While you can’t avoid the problems regarding elevation and the sun, specific measures can minimize their effect, making them trivial issues as you adjust to living Mile High.