Altitude Sickness

Altitude Sickness in Nepal Himalaya

What is altitude sickness?

The higher we go the more our body adapt by breathing faster and deeper. It means the air pressure is low when we are in high altitude. The breath we take the less oxygen so the trekkers suffered from altitude sickness due to not having an extra acclimatization day while on high altitude mountain. Altitude starts to affect us from 2000 meters above.

Altitude sickness common symptoms (Acute Mountain Sickness AMS)

When we are in high altitude our bodies is not adjusted or acclimatize nicely so experience the symptoms of AMS. It is always better descending back 500m to 1000M is recommended until we acclimatize properly before the symptoms are getting worse. Many people throughout the world work at high altitudes. Their bodies have adjusted or acclimatized to the higher altitude over a long period of time. If trekking you may not have as long to acclimatize so it's very important to be aware of some of the symptoms surrounding high altitude trekking.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) common symptoms

  • Persistent headache 
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting
  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Dizziness
  • Poor sleep or sleep disturbance (insomnia)
  • Disorientation
  • Slight swelling of hands and face

Prevention of AMS

  • Acclimatization: After 1000m ascent stay one more night for acclimatization
  • Do not make rapid ascent
  • No alcohol, no sleeping pills, no smoking, no sex
  • Drink more: about 3-4 liters day-clean water (boiled, filtered or medicated), tea, coffee, soup, and juice
  • No heavy backpacks
  • Climb higher, always sleep lower
  • Ascent less than 300m a day above 3.000m of altitude
  • Never trek alone
  • Eat well and regularly
  • Wear proper warm cloth while you are in high altitude.
  • Be aware of wind prevention.
  • Keep your hands clean as possible during meal and
  • If you have mild symptoms, do not proceed higher. Take aspirin tablets.
  • If you have worsening symptoms, go down immediately.
  • Do not leave your team member behind unattended.

Treatment of AMS

Descent is the best remedy; or in case of emergency of medical help get help of horse to descend down or helicopter rescue
Drink plenty of water and ascend slowly.

Three medications have been proven

Nifedipine (ordinarily used to treat heart problems and high blood pressure)
Descomethasone (an important drug to carry for emergency use).

Note: Do consider a porter for carrying your load if you are carrying to much or feel you are not capable carrying all your belongings comfortably when you are on a trek.

Make sure that you have proper travel insurance for high altitudes. Make sure that it cover for trekking at an high altitude which can cover your emergency evacuation in case of emergency (should cover helicopter rescue)

Team Leader  | Durga KC |