Altitude Sickness

Trekking or climbing over 3200m it is significant to take into report the effect of altitude on your body. The thinner air affects you in many ways and if you go high too fast you can kill yourself. Read how not to AMS and Acute Mountain Sickness: Generally called high altitude sickness; this has the potential to affect all travelers from 3000m. Your body stipulate time to regulate to smaller quantity of oxygen in the air at 5500m the air force is about half that of sea level, ie there is half the amount of oxygen (and nitrogen). This is about equal to the top of Kalapattar, in the Everest region, and the top of the Thorong La 5416m. For treks below an altitude of about 3000m it is not normally a problem. AMS is caused by going up high too fast and can be fatal if all the warning signals are ignored. Note that it is not the real altitude, but the speed at which you reach higher altitudes which cause the problems. Altitude sickness is avoidable. Go up gradually, giving your body sufficient time to adjust. These are the 'safe' rates for the majority of trekkers: spend 2-3 nights between 2000m and 3000m before going higher. From 3000m sleep an average of 300m higher each night with a rest day every 900-1000m. Eventually it is up to you to identify the symptom, and only climb if you are relatively symptom-free.

 

Normal symptoms at altitude: Don't hope to feel great at altitude of more than 3200m. These are the average altitude symptoms that you should hope but not worry about. Every travelers will knowledge some or all of these, no matter how gradually they climb.

 

  • Periods of sleeplessness
  • The need for more sleeps than normal, often 10 hours or more
  • Occasional loss of appetite
  • Vivid, wild dreams at around 2500-3800m in altitude
  • Unexpected momentary shortness of breath, day and night
  • Periodic breathing that wakes you occasionally - consider taking Diamox
  • The need to rest/catch your breath frequently while trekking, especially above 4000m
  • Your nose turning into a full-time snot factory
  • Increased urination - many trekkers have to go once during the night (a good sign that your body is
  • acclimatising: at Gokyo, Sean from Canada's record, 18 times in one day).

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    Mild Symptoms: Only need to get one of the symptoms to be getting altitude sickness, not all of them.

     

    Headache: common among trekkers. Often a headache comes on during the evening and nearly always worsens during the night. Raising your head and shoulders while trying to sleep sometimes offers partial relief. If it is bad you may want to try taking a painkiller: aspirin (dispirin), paracetamol, Ibuprofen (Aduil) or acetaminophen (tylenol). Never take sleeping tablets. You could also take Diamox: see below. Headaches arise from many causes, for example, dehydration, but if you develop a headache assume it is from the altitude.

     

    Nausea (feeling sick): can occur without other symptoms, but often nausea will develop with a bad headache. If you are better in the morning take a rest day, or if you still feel bad descend.

     

    Dizziness (mild): if this occurs while walking, stop out of the sun and have a rest and drink. Stay at the closest teahouse.Lack of appetite or generally feeling bad - common at altitude due to too rapid an ascent.Painful cough or a dry raspy cough. In other words anything other than diarrhea or a sore throat could be altitude sickness. Assume it is, because if you have a headache from dehydration, ascending further is not dangerous, but if its due to AMS, the consequences could be very serious. You cannot tell the difference, so caution is the safest course.

     

    BASIC RULE

    Never go higher with basic symptom: If you find mild symptoms developing while walking, stop and relax with your head out of the sun and drink some fluids. If the symptom do not go away totally then stay at same altitude or r if symptoms get worse, go down. A small loss of elevation (100-300m) can make a big disparity to how you feel and how you sleep, go down to the last place where you feel good. If symptom develops at night then, unless they rapidly get worse, wait them out and see how you feel in the morning. If the symptoms have not gone after breakfast then have a rest day or descend. If they have gone, consider having a rest day or an easy days walking anyhow. Sustained climb is likely to bring back the symptoms. Altitude sickness should be reacting to, when symptoms are mild, going higher will absolutely make it worse and trekking is enjoy, not to feel sick.

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