Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness information.

High altitude sickness is recognized as acute mountain sickness (AMS.) and may occur when people ascend too quickly in altitudes of over 3,000 meters. We strongly recommend you include some rest days on your trek itinerary.

Most people will feel some effect of altitude, shortness of breath, and possibly light headaches, which is fairly common. Acute mountain sickness normally involves a severe headache, sickness, and loss of awareness. In almost every potential case there are enough warning signs to take appropriate action.

Our expert and trained guides from Gokyo Treks and Expedition will advise you about any health requirements and also mountain altitude sickness while you are on the trek. So you should not worry about it, we do, however, recommend you get advice from your travel doctor or health advisor before you leave.

The following information helps you better ideas about high altitude sickness and how to minimize its effects. There are three stages of altitude mountain sickness and symptoms.

1. Normal AMS symptoms – expected but not serious.

Every trekker will feel some if not all of these symptoms, no matter how slowly they ascend. Periods of drowsiness (need more sleep than normal; at least 10 hours)

– Occasional loss of appetite
– Vivid, wild dreams especially at around 2,500-3,000 meters.
– Periodic breathing.
– The need to rest/catch my breath frequently while trekking, esp. above 3,500 m.
– A runny nose and Dizziness.
– Increasing urination while moving to/at higher altitudes (a good sign).

2. Mild AMS Symptoms – (ATTENTION !!). If you have such kind of symptoms, we highly recommend you walk downhill.

Many trekkers in the higher elevation in the Himalayas get mild AMS, admit or acknowledge that you are having symptoms. You need to have only one of the following symptoms to find altitude sickness.

– A mild headache.
– Nausea and Dizziness
– Weakness and Fatigue / Tired
– Dry Raspy cough.
– Loss of appetite.
– A runny nose and hard to breathe.

3. serious AMS symptoms – (ATTENTION). You need to go downhill walking immediately.

Persistent, severe headache

Strong vomiting

– Ataxia (loss of coordination, an inability to walk in a straight line
– Losing consciousness (inability to stay awake or understand instructions)
– Mental confusion or hallucinations
– Liquid sounds in lungs and very persistent, sometimes watery cough.
– Rapid breathing or feeling breathless at rest (breathing difficulty).
– fatigue, very tired – Severe lethargy.
– Marked blueness of face and lips.
– High resting heartbeat (over 130 beats per minute)

Dangerous cases of AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness)

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). This is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs and can build up around the brain. It is often accompanied by a mild fever. If the first signs of ataxia begin to appear, treat them with medication, oxygen, and descent. Usually, 4 to 8mg of dexamethasone is given as a first dosage, then 4mg every six hours.

Diamox every 12 hours and 2-4 liters/minute of oxygen. The descent is necessary but a PAC (portable altitude chamber) bag will often be used first if available.

How to avoid altitude sickness on Trek?

Hiking in the Himalayas is not easy as it is huge, very diverse, sky-touching high, and simply breathtaking. Staying healthy in the Himalayas is certainly more tricky than it is at home. But if you’re used to walking and are cautious about gaining altitude then you’re unlikely to have any problems.

Any one of us can feel high altitude sickness if we are not aware of altitude mountain sickness. In order to avoid high altitude sickness, there are specific items that the trekkers should consider:-

  • Ascend Slowly
  • Avoid Cigarettes, Tobacco & Alcohol.
  • Proper acclimatization rest and walk gradually.
  • Drink plenty of water like 3/4 liters a day.
  • Eat well and Plenty – mostly soups items like garlic, ginger, etc
  • Use the Diamox as per the Doctor’s instructions if AMS symptoms grow.