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

Diamox™
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