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.

People traveling to high altitudes who usually live at sea level are more susceptible to AMS as compared to those who normally live at higher elevations. Given 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) 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 prevent 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.

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can occur when you ascend to higher altitudes too quickly. It’s caused by the decreased availability of oxygen in the air at higher altitudes, and it can lead to a variety of symptoms, including headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

Altitude sickness usually happens at levels above 2,500m. Altitude sickness can develop very quickly and can be life-threatening.

If your body does not get enough time to acclimatize to being at high altitude, you can develop mountain sickness. Any one of us can feel high altitude sickness if we are not aware of altitude mountain sickness. In order to escape high altitude sickness, here are seven tips to help you while trekking:

1. Acclimatize gradually:

The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to allow your body time to adjust to the higher altitude gradually. Plan your itinerary so that you spend a few days at intermediate elevations to acclimatize before climbing to higher elevations.

2. Stay hydrated:

Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which can exacerbate altitude sickness. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you. 4-5 liters of water is advisable to drink to stay hydrated to maintain the level of water.

3. Eat well and Plenty:

Consume foods that are high in carbohydrates to help provide energy for your body. Eating well can also help prevent altitude sickness. Mostly soups items like garlic, and ginger can help your body’s blood circulation very well and warm enough.

4. Take it slow:

Walk at a slow and steady pace to conserve your energy and give your body time to adjust to the altitude. Don’t rush and never plan to walk more than a thousand meters every day.

5. Avoid overexertion:

Avoid strenuous activity until you have acclimatized to the higher altitude. AMS symptoms are often the worst after the first night and improve within one day if you do not ascend to a higher altitude. Symptoms may return as you travel higher. However, symptoms can sometimes persist for days, even if you do not climb higher.

6. Medication:

There are medications that can help prevent altitude sickness, such as acetazolamide and Diamox. Use the Diamox as per the Doctor’s instructions if AMS symptoms grow to prevent yourself on high altitude. Talk to your doctor before taking any type of medication.

7. Listen to your body:

If you start to experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, or fatigue, take a break and rest until you feel better. If your symptoms persist or worsen, descend to a lower altitude.

Likewise, if you have altitude sickness, you are likely to feel dizzy and weak, you might also have a headache and feel nauseous. It can feel like a hangover. Altitude sickness can affect your lungs, in which case it is sometimes known as high altitude pulmonary edema or HAPE.

Remember that altitude sickness can be serious, so it’s important to take it seriously and take steps to prevent it. However you should ensure that your travel and trekking insurance covers the cost of an emergency evacuation or medical assistance should you need one or both on a mountain trek, as well as hospitalization in the Himalayan country Nepal you are hiking in. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor or a travel health specialist before embarking on your journey.