Why Do I Feel Sick After Hiking?

Why Do I Feel Sick After Hiking?

Hiking is a popular outdoor activity that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. However, it is not uncommon for some individuals to feel sick after a hiking expedition. This article explores the reasons behind feeling unwell after hiking and provides insights into how to prevent and alleviate these symptoms. So, if you’ve ever wondered why you feel sick after hiking, read on to discover some possible explanations.

Physical Exertion and Overexertion

Hiking involves physical exertion, especially when tackling challenging terrains or steep inclines. You may experience nausea, disorientation, and fatigue when you push your body beyond its limits. Overexertion can cause muscle cramps, dehydration, and even heat-related illnesses. It’s essential to pace yourself, listen to your body, and gradually increase your hiking intensity to avoid overexertion.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude, or acute mountain sickness (AMS), can occur when hiking at high elevations. As you ascend to higher heights, the air becomes thinner, resulting in lower oxygen levels. Altitude sickness is characterized by headache, vertigo, nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue.

Gradual acclimatization, proper hydration, and allowing your body time to adjust to the altitude can help prevent altitude sickness.

Dehydration and Hyponatremia

Strenuous physical activity, such as hiking, can cause excessive sweating, leading to dehydration if not adequately addressed. Dehydration can manifest as feelings of fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, and even nausea. On the other hand, consuming excessive amounts of water without replenishing electrolytes can result in hyponatremia, a condition where the body has low sodium levels. Balancing hydration by drinking enough water and electrolyte-rich fluids is crucial during hiking.

Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

Hiking during hot weather conditions can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are severe conditions caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and confusion. To prevent these conditions, hiking during more excellent parts of the day, wearing appropriate clothing, and staying hydrated are essential.

Poor Nutrition

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in sustaining energy levels during hiking. Inadequate food intake or consuming foods lacking essential nutrients can leave you feeling weak, nauseous, and exhausted. Consuming a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats is crucial before and during your hiking trip. Pack nutritious snacks such as trail mix, granola bars, and fruits to maintain energy levels.

Motion Sickness

For some individuals, hiking on uneven terrain or navigating through switchbacks can trigger motion sickness. Motion nausea occurs when the brain receives contradictory signals from the inner ears, eyes, and other sensory receptors. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Taking breaks, focusing on the horizon, and wearing acupressure wristbands can help alleviate motion sickness.

Allergies and Environmental Factors

Hiking exposes you to various environmental factors that may trigger allergies or sensitivity reactions. Pollen, dust, insect bites, or exposure to certain plants can cause allergic reactions, leading to symptoms like sneezing, itching, congestion, and even nausea. If you are prone to allergies, consider taking antihistamines or wearing appropriate protective clothing during your hike.

Inadequate Rest and Recovery

Insufficient rest and recovery before and after a hiking trip can affect your body. Lack of sleep and strenuous physical activity can weaken the immune system and leave you feeling sick. Ensure you get enough rest before your hike and allow your body adequate time to recover afterwards. Listen to your body’s cues and prioritize rest when needed.

Preexisting Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can make individuals more susceptible to feeling sick after hiking. Diseases like diabetes, heart problems, respiratory issues, or gastrointestinal disorders can exacerbate symptoms or create discomfort during physical exertion. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional to assess any potential risks associated with hiking and manage your condition effectively.

Tips for Preventing Sickness During Hiking

  • Gradually increase hiking intensity to avoid overexertion.
  • Acclimatize properly when hiking at high altitudes.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water and replenishing electrolytes.
  • Dress appropriately for weather conditions to prevent heat-related illnesses.
  • Consume a balanced diet before and during your hike.
  • Take breaks and focus on the horizon if you experience motion sickness.
  • Protect yourself from allergies and environmental factors.
  • Prioritize rest and recovery before and after hiking.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional if you have preexisting medical conditions.

Remedies for Post-Hiking Discomfort

  • Rest and allow your body to recover.
  • Hydrate adequately to replenish lost fluids.
  • Apply ice or cold packs to relieve muscle soreness.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers for headaches or discomfort.
  • Take warm baths or use Epsom salts to soothe tired muscles.
  • Stretch gently to improve flexibility and alleviate stiffness.
  • Get plenty of sleep to aid in the recovery process.


Feeling sick after hiking can be attributed to various factors such as physical exertion, altitude sickness, dehydration, heat-related illnesses, poor nutrition, motion sickness, allergies, inadequate rest, and preexisting medical conditions. By understanding these causes and implementing preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of falling ill during or after your hiking adventures. Listen to your body, stay hydrated, and seek professional advice.


Can hiking at high altitudes make you sick?

Yes, hiking at high altitudes can lead to altitude sickness, characterized by symptoms like headache, nausea, and fatigue. Gradual acclimatization is essential to prevent this condition.

How can I avoid dehydration while hiking?

Ensure you drink plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids throughout your hike. Remember to balance hydration and replenish lost fluids.

Are there any natural remedies for motion sickness during hiking?

Some natural remedies for motion sickness include ginger, peppermint, and acupressure wristbands. Experiment with these methods to find what works best for you.

Can allergies make me feel sick after hiking?

Yes, exposure to allergens during hiking can trigger allergic reactions, leading to symptoms like sneezing, itching, and nausea.

When should I seek medical help if I feel sick after hiking?

If your symptoms persist or worsen, or you have preexisting medical conditions that could be a concern, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

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