mexico city altitude sickness

Mexico City Altitude Sickness: How to Prevent & Treat It [2021]


Worried about Altitude Sickness in Mexico City?

You’ve come to the right guide, because I lived in Mexico City for about a year — and I’m also a native Floridian whose body was not acclimated to high altitude. Translation: I’ve dealt with my fair share of Mexico City altitude sickness. I can tell you first hand, it’s no fun.

In fact, it feels like the flu, and can quickly ruin your Mexico City vacation. That’s exactly why I wrote this article: To pass all my pro tips on to you, so you have an epic Mexico City trip instead of an epic bout with altitude sickness in Mexico City!

OUR PICK

water bottles

The #1 Mexico City altitude sickness prevention method is staying hydrated! A Water-To-Go Bottle will keep you hydrated, and filter your Mexico drinking water.

💸 Use code SOLO15 for 15% OFF your purchase.

💧 That’s right, staying hydrated really is one of the best ways to avoid the dreaded symptoms of altitude sickness in Mexico City, and improve your overall travel health. Beyond that, filtering your drinking water is one of the best ways to avoid Montezuma’s Revenge in Mexico City as well.

As everyone wants to know how to not get altitude sickness in Mexico City, this article will guide you as best as possible. If you’re ready for all my best Mexico City travel tips, using the knowledge I gained after living there for about one year, let’s get to it!

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

Who’s at risk for Altitude Sickness in Mexico City?

In short — everyone who’s at a high elevation!

It’s a very random sickness that can happen to anyone at any time, even those who live in higher elevations. For this reason, everyone who’s traveling to Mexico City will want to come prepared with the altitude sickness medications and homeopathic remedies you’ll find in this article.

Anyone can develop altitude sickness, no matter how fit, young, or healthy they are…

WebMD

What is the Mexico City Elevation?

Mexico City’s elevation is 7,350 feet high, or 2240 meters!

For the record: The altitude of Mexico City is pretty high up there! As you may know, Denver is nicknamed the “Mile High City” because it’s one-mile above sea level. Well, Mexico City is even higher than Denver, Colorado — at about 1.5-miles above sea level — a half-mile higher up than Denver.

🇲🇽 Mexico Fun Facts: 1. Mexico City is the highest city in Mexico! 2. It is also the eighth highest capital city on Earth — the highest is La Paz, Bolivia, at an astounding 11,950-feet high (3640 meters).

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

What is Mexico City Altitude Sickness?

Mexico City altitude sickness happens because the pressure in the air pressure (called barometric pressure) drops at higher altitudes. As the barometric pressure drops, there’s less oxygen available to breathe, and you may experience dehydration and difficulty breathing.

According to WebMD, “Any time you go above 8,000-feet, you can be at risk for altitude sickness.” While the Mexico City altitude in feet is just shy of that height at 7,350-feet, a lot of travelers still experience altitude sickness in Mexico City.

Why do you get altitude sickness?

When you go from a place at lower altitude straight to a place at higher altitude like to Mexico City, this rapid change in altitude can cause you to get sick. Note: Airplanes are pressurized so your body doesn’t recognize the drop in barometric pressure when you’re flying to Mexico City.

will i definitely get mexico city altitude sickness?

Some people visit Mexico City and don’t experience any altitude sickness symptoms at all. However, if you’re one of the unlucky ones, as I have been 😢, the symptoms can really ruin your trip. Let’s take a look at exactly what these common altitude sickness symptoms can be.

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

Symptoms of Mexico City Altitude Sickness

Note: I am not a doctor, and none of what you’re about to read is medical advice. Rather, this is what I have personally done (or know people who have done) to lessen the symptoms of altitude sickness in Mexico City using over the counter remedies.

1. Dehydration

As mentioned, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to combat altitude sickness in Mexico City. While you will want to keep drinking water all throughout the day from your refillable Water-To-Go Bottle, you can also supplement the water with a “hydration multiplier” called Liquid IV.

Now, I’m not going to tell you not to drink all the yummy alcoholic Mexico drinks while on vacation. However, I am going to tell you booze can make altitude sickness worse because it further dehydrates you. If you plan to drink a lot, you’ll also want those electrolytes.

💧To add in some extra electrolytes to your water, which will help give you a boost of extra hydration, pick up Liquid IV before your Mexico City vacation. This “hydration multiplier” is a popular hangover cure and hydration aid — that has about 70,000 positive reviews on Amazon 😳

2. Dizziness

The same medication that treats motion sickness, Dramamine, will work for Mexico City altitude sickness (just make sure you buy non-drowsy). If you prefer a more natural remedy, many people find relief with Anti-Altitude Sickness Bands or an Altitude Sickness Patch.

3. Nausea & Vomiting

This one really sucks, because you won’t want to eat all the delicious Mexico City tacos which will soon be available to you! In all seriousness, many only feel nauseous, but some people will have to actually throw up, so if you start feeling nauseous, quickly duck into a public bathroom.

4. Shortness of Breath & Difficulty Breathing

Mexico City is very walkable so you’ll likely be walking a lot. Normal walking shouldn’t be too bad, but you might really start to feel the Mexico City altitude sickness kick in if you have to go up a flight of stairs, and find yourself winded very quickly.

5. Headaches

The final of the most common symptoms of altitude sickness is headaches. Plan to carry a few of your preferred headache meds on you and that should suffice. Having your Water-To-Go Bottle on you will come in handy when you need to take headache meds.

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

Homeopathic Mexico City Altitude Sickness Remedies

Altitude Sickness Bands

Many people have great success with these Acupressure Bracelets (AKA anti-nausea bracelets). These are the same wristbands used to help people experiencing sea sickness or motion sickness in cars, and they have been successfully used for altitude sickness as well.

How they work is there is a small, plastic bead in the band and you will wear it so that the bead rests on the inside of your wrist. There is a trigger point there which, when pressed, helps to alleviate the symptoms of nausea.

As a wristband, there’s no real side effects or potential harm that can come from using these. In my personal opinion, I always recommend friends, family members and followers bring these bands with them to Mexico City. While they won’t work for everyone, they do work for most people.

Altitude Sickness Patch

Anti-Nausea Patches are another natural way to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness in Mexico City. They are small stickers which you place behind your ear or just below your navel which are said to constrict and control the vagus nerve, which is the “nausea nerve.”

Queasy Pops (Altitude Sickness Lollipops & Candy)

Developed by healthcare professionals, Queasy Pops and Queasy Drops, which offer another all-natural and drug free solution to help with symptoms of altitude sickness in Mexico City. They come in several flavors, like green tea, raspberry and ginger, and are infused with nausea-relieving essential oils.

Liquid Chlorophyll

The final option for non-medicinal altitude sickness treatment is Liquid Chlorophyll drops. Chlorophyll has several health benefits, including increasing your red blood cell count. The more red blood cells in your system, the more oxygen there is to be absorbed, which reduces the effects of altitude sickness.

Medications for Mexico City Altitude Sickness

According to WebMD, acetazolamide is the best treatment for altitude sickness — though you need a prescription.

For over the counter altitude sickness medications, there’s the anti-nausea medicine, Dramamine (make sure to buy non-drowsy). You can get it in pill form or as Dramamine chewable tablets. There’s also dedicated anti-altitude sickness meds, like Altitude Assist.

As many of the symptoms are associated with pain (namely headaches and body aches), you can take your preferred pain reliever of choice: ibuprofen (called paracetamol in Mexico), Tylenol, naproxen, Advil, etc.

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

What to do if you feel like you have Altitude Sickness in Mexico City

For most travelers, the altitude of Mexico City isn’t so high you aren’t able to function. However, if your symptoms are concerning you, go see a doctor 👉 Here’s how.

Doctor visits in Mexico City and all Mexico cost much less than in the United States. The few times I’ve had to go to the clinic, it was less than $5USD to see a doctor! For those who are even slightly concerned about how you’re feeling in the altitude of Mexico City — it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you’re feeling these normal Mexico City altitude sickness symptoms, you might be ok if you just sit down and rest for a few minutes. According to WebMD, you should be eating plenty of carbs and drinking plenty of water, a nice 20-minute cafe break for food and some Liquid IV water may suffice.

💊 For medicinal and homeopathic remedies to the common altitude sickness symptoms, refer to the previous section.

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

Do’s and Don’ts to Mexico City Altitude Sickness

DO: Get a Filterable Water Bottle

After Is Mexico safe?, the #2 most asked Mexico travel question seems to be, Can you drink the water in Mexico? The answer to that question is NO, you can’t drink the water in Mexico! It is not safe for human consumption — the locals don’t drink tap water, and neither should you.

As you now know, dehydration is one of the most common symptoms of altitude sickness in Mexico City. WebMD recommends you drink 3-4 quarts (12-16 cups) of water each day, and since you can’t drink tap water in Mexico, you have three options:

  • ♻️ Get a water filter bottle, like the Water-To-Go Bottle
  • 🫖 Boil the tap water, if your accommodation has a stove
  • 😕 Keep buying single-use plastic bottled water each day

To keep your carbon footprint low and practice responsible tourism in Mexico, the filterable water bottle is your best option. I personally love the Water-To-Go Bottle because the company supports many charitable initiatives, including Just a Drop and Incredible Oceans (more info here).

water bottles

Use code SOLO15 for 15% OFF all Water-To-Go Bottles ▶︎ Shop now!

💧 What is water-to-go?

With BPA-free Water-To-Go bottles, you have access to safe water anywhere in Mexico without having to buy environmentally damaging, single-use plastic water bottles. These bottles filter out 99.9999% of water-borne contaminants including viruses, bacteria, chemicals, parasites and microplastics.

We envision a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water, free of single use plastics. 

Water-To-Go Mission Statement

The 3-in-1 filter acts like a net within a net within a net, making it nearly-impossible for illness-causing contaminant to get through. If you’re wondering what happens to the water filter when you have to replace it — great question! The filter membrane is biodegradable, and the shrouds are recyclable ♻️

woman holding water bottle with filter

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MEXICO city Altitude sickness

DON’T: Ignore Your Altitude Sickness Symptoms

For most travelers who do get Mexico City altitude symptoms, their symptoms are manageable with water, and over the counter medicines. However, some will need to see a doctor. If you know, or even just feel like you need to see a doctor in Mexico City — go see a doctor ASAP!

Mexico City Pharmacies with doctors

If you find yourself feeling sick in Mexico City, open your maps app, locate one of the big chain pharmacies near you, and head there. These best Mexico farmacias include Farmacia Similares, Farmacia Yza, Farmacia Guadalajara and Farmacia San Pablo. Note: No health insurance is required to go.

These pharmacies have on-site doctors that can do quick check-ups, and you don’t need an appointment to see them. There’s usually only a short wait, and since you’re already at a pharmacy, if you do need any meds, you can get them right there.

👩‍⚕️ Mexico City Travel Tip: If your Spanish isn’t great, download the Google Translate app. With this app, you and the doctor can speak into your phone, and the translation is spoken back to you both.

Friendly Dr. Simi of Farmacia Similares, one of the biggest Mexico City pharmacy chains. (Photo: Golden Emporium via Flickr)
MEXICO city Altitude sickness

DO: Come to Mexico City Prepared

If this will be your first visit to Mexico City, you might not know this, but there are farmacías (pharmacies) on every other block. However, they really only keep “general medications” in stock, and won’t always have dedicated Anti-Altitude Sickness Meds.

If you’re someone partial to the homeopathic remedies, pick up an Acupressure Bracelet, Anti-Nausea Patch and Liquid Chlorophyll drops before your trip. These likely won’t be readily available in Mexico City — but are all known altitude sickness treatments.

DON’T: Pack the Whole Medicine Cabinet

General medicines are easy to get in Mexico, so there’s no need to pack too many over-the-counter meds. Meaning, you may want to save some suitcase space and not bring your Costco-size bottle of Advil.

Now, if you’re brand-specific, as in you can only take Advil, then make sure to bring your Advil. While there will be headache and pain medications everywhere, you might not always be able to find Advil (or any specific brand, for that matter) while you’re traveling to Mexico City.

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

Mexico City Travel Guide & FAQ

Is Mexico City safe for tourists?

Given the mainstream media’s demonization of the entire country, Mexico City travel safety is likely on your mind. If you’re wondering, Is Mexico City safe to visit?, the answer is YES — for the majority of travelers, it is.

The thing with safe travel in Mexico City (and anywhere) is that safety is never guaranteed for anyone in any country or city on Earth. As someone who lived in Mexico City, I know I stayed safe because I made my own safety in Mexico City my highest priority. Check the tips mentioned in the above article to see how ⤴

“Millions of Americans go to Mexico on vacation every year, so if we play the numbers game, the number of incidents is very small… When I’m asked if Mexico is a safe place to go travel on vacation, my response is yes.”

Carlos Barron, 25-year FBI veteran (source: Forbes)

What do I pack for Mexico City?

As with most big cities, many Mexico City locals express themselves through their physical appearance and clothing. This means there’s a bit of an “anything goes” with what to wear in Mexico. However, overall. Mexicans tend to dress modestly, so pants, jeans and long sleeve shirts are the norm.

If you don’t want to get too much attention for your clothing, opt for comfy, thin leggings instead of shorts, and cover up with a light cardigan.

Beyond clothing, Mexico City’s sidewalks aren’t the easiest to walk on, so you’ll opt for comfy flats over heels or wedges. Since this is a walkable city, massaging gel inserts come in hands so you can cross everywhere off on your Mexico City itinerary — without any pain in your feet.

Mexico City Weather

Though the country is known for tropical climates, Central Mexico and Mexico City are much cooler than many assume. Check out the weather in Mexico City chart above, where you’ll notice it drops to about 45-50°F at night in the winter months 🥶

🧣 Secret Hidden Pocket Travel Scarf: As you can see above, you’ll want warmer clothing for much of the year. This security scarf is the perfect accessory to keep you warm and hide your valuables.

Mexico City Outfits

Below are some examples of how to dress in Mexico City. You’ll find options that will work both in the warmer and cooler months of the year, so you’re always following the (unofficial) Mexico City dress code! Click on any image below to buy ⤵ or head here for more Mexico City outfit inspo.

Where to stay in Mexico City

When considering the Is it safe to travel in Mexico City? question, a big part of safety comes down to where you stay and spend your time. Check out this list of 150 best things to do in Mexico City, with amazing sites in all the best Mexico City neighborhoods.

You’ll also want to pick a hotel, hostel or VRBO/Airbnb in Mexico City’s safest areas. When I personally recommend a Mexico City neighborhood to friends, followers and family members, it’s always Roma Norte and La Condesa — two of the safest places to stay in Mexico City.

The Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is one of the most beautiful and best hotels in Mexico City.

Mexico City neighborhoods to avoid

Among the least safe neighborhoods in Mexico City, there’s Doctores and Tepito — both which you unknowingly can stumble into if you’re not paying attention. Some others include Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl (AKA Ciudad Neza) and Iztapalapa, though you likely won’t be near those two.

Doctores: Only go for Lucha Libre

Located between two of the best areas in Mexico City, Roma Norte and Centro Historico, you can easily wander into the Doctores neighborhood if you aren’t checking your map app. As this isn’t the safest area, avoid it unless you’re seeing a lucha libre (Mexican wrestling match) at Arena Mexico.

If you do want to see a lucha match, consider going with one of the group tours listed below ⤵ Seeing lucha libre with a group, and having a local as your guide, is both safer but also, lucha is so much more fun with a group!

Lucha Libre Tours

Tepito: avoid entirely

You’ll want to avoid Tepito, one of the least safe areas in Mexico City. It is located next to Centro Historico, and many locals don’t even go there. For a tourist, there’s nothing you’d want or need and nothing noteworthy to see, so avoiding Tepito is a safe travel Mexico City must.

Centro Historico: Use Uber After Dark

While Centro Historico is an absolute must visit on your trip, you’ll want to use Uber to get around after the sun goes down. There are some amazing bars, restaurants, and even Plaza Garibaldi to see the mariachi musicians — just plan to Uber between places, and Uber home.

🇲🇽 Mexico City Travel Tip: As this is one of the main areas for Mexico City tourists, during the day you’ll see the Policia Turistica (Tourist Police) in Centro Historico. This dedicated police unit is there only to maintain and assist with Mexico City tourism safety.

MEXICO city Altitude sickness

Final Thoughts: How to NOT Get Mexico City Altitude Sickness

Mexico City elevation is rather high. For those who don’t live at a high or higher elevation, you’re certainly more prone to getting altitude sickness in Mexico City — though you also may not. Even those who do live at a high elevation can still get altitude sickness in Mexico City, as it’s just that random.

  • Mexico City elevation feet = 7,350 (1.5 miles)
  • Mexico City meters feet = 2240 (2.25km)

The truth is, there’s really no way to know who will get it and who won’t. For this reason, the best thing you can do is show up prepared to combat Mexico City altitude sickness with the proper medications and homeopathic remedies — and just hope you don’t need to use them.

Beyond medications, you will want to stay hydrated, avoid drinking and smoking, get proper rest, take a break when you need to, and really just listen to your body. While altitude sickness in Mexico City can be annoying, it’s also usually pretty easy to treat it yourself.

Have questions on Altitude Sickness in Mexico City?

I’d love to hear from you! If there was anything I missed anything in this article, please join the conversation and ask away in the comments below ⤵ I’ll do my best to get you the info you need.

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