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Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and it means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevation above 3000 meters. The victim can develop severe symptoms very rapidly if the mild effects are ignored.

On mountain trips altitude related problems” are the important factors to be considered because there can be a real danger of mild to serious problems. So it is important that trekkers going high above 3000m. and doing first time hikes should understand that they will be affected to a greater or lesser extent.

Following are some of the basic symptoms of the altitude sickness and to avoid such sickness

  • Basic Symptoms : (I) Loss of appetite (II) Sleep disturbance (III) Difficult to pass urine
  • Medium Symptoms : (I) Headache which is bad (II) Irregular breathing (III) Nausea (IV) Mild weakness
  • Serious Symptoms : (I) Slight swelling of hands and face (II) Cannot stand upright without swaying while eyes are closed. (III) Can hear gurgling sound in the chest. (IV) Zero energy.

What to do for altitude sickness?

The best way to prevent an altitude illness is acclimatization; that is, by a graduate rate of ascent (not more than 400 – 500 meters a day), allowing sufficient rest at various intermediate altitudes. The dry air of the mountains tends to dehydrate you so an increased fluid intake is necessary. Try to drink at least four liters of water a day. On the trail you can drink hot garlic soup that will help you to some extent. When you reach to your destination it is better to make some hiking up to a bit higher point and come down to the camp or hotel. You may take a Diamox 250mg tablets the night before flying / going to altitude. After the symptoms will often disappear and the trek can be resumed.

If you feel obviously suffering from the serious symptoms of AMS then descent should not be delayed. In such case, should an emergency situation arise, horse, or porter will be arranged or rescue flight where possible in a serious case. There are 3 radios in Namche Bazaar, Doctors at Khunde hospital in the Everest Area and HRA Clinics and in some trekking areas also has the Gamow Bag.


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