Laura Landro | Wall Street Journal
As more travelers seek out adventure at high elevations, altitude sickness is an often overlooked risk.
At popular destinations far above sea level, from the peaks of Nepal and the Pacific Crest Trail to the tourist attractions of Peru, the air gets thinner the higher you ascend. People often experience headaches, dizziness, and fatigue from a condition called acute mountain sickness before their bodies eventually adapt to lower oxygen levels in the blood. Untreated, it can progress to a potentially fatal swelling of the brain. And when people ascend in altitude too quickly, they can suffer a swelling of the lungs that can also lead to death.
Researchers are still uncovering some of the mysteries of altitude-related health problems. Genetic factors seem to make some people less susceptible to altitude sickness. People over 50 have a slightly lower risk, perhaps because the brain shrinks slightly as it ages. Men and women seem to be equally at risk, although symptoms might be more severe in men. And, interestingly, people’s fitness levels seem to have little to do with...more
Karin Halperin | Conde Nast Traveler
The United States announced a loosening of rules that will make it easier for U.S. travelers to visit Cuba—but don't start making your grand Havana plans just yet. Following President Obama's December call for re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba after a 54-year halt, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce today announced new specific measures, which take effect Friday, to ease restrictions on travel to the island nation.
While the moves signal more leeway in travel and commerce between the two estranged countries, it's not exactly full-on tourism yet.
U.S. travelers will still have to fall into one of the 12 authorized categories—such as visiting family, conducting U.S. or foreign government business, pursuing journalistic or educational activities—but they will no longer have to obtain a specific license from the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. They can self-report their travel purpose.
Since the new rules will also allow airlines and travel agents to circumvent an OFAC license to provide service to Cuba, U.S. travelers will be...more
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