How to prevent and treat high altitude sickness

Whether you are trekking to the incredible heights of Baltoro glacier or K2 base camp, you won’t just test yourself physically but the solidifying cold and most importantly, the altitude.

As you go up, the air gets thinner and the outcome is reduced oxygen availability. Thus, blood oxygen levels drop and the body is famished of oxygen for exercise and crucial functions.

The first thing you’ll notice is how much more troublesome it feels at a height 5000 meters, even leaving your tent to the loo blow your mind and get your pulse. Your body makes bicarbonate that is discharged in the pee to manage all the additional carbon dioxide you produce at height.

Your mind detects that you have less oxygen in your blood than you are used to and it restricts the power of any activity you do, by sending messages through the central nervous system to back off muscle constrictions because your brain is voracious for oxygen, and should keep up a steady supply.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the impact of intense introduction to high elevation, and anybody can encounter a few side effects at such heights. Mellow symptoms are nausea and headache and can be treated with your standard painkillers. If migraines aren’t leaving with painkillers, or sickness swings to regurgitating then it’s a serious concern. It can be treated with a medicine like Diamox, but I can be serious if overlooked. Every mountaineer must know that it can turn from mild to severe AMS like pulmonary edema (overabundance of liquid in the lungs) or cerebral edema (collection of water in brain).

Symptoms of severe altitude sickness

  • Worsening of mild symptoms
  • Confusion and irrational behaviour
  • Uncontrollable coughing
  • Blurred vision
  • Hallucinations
  • Coughing up fluid
  • Convulsions
  • Prevention

There are various things you can do to diminish your odds of creating high altitude sickness;

  1. Acclimatization is vital, ascent gradually and slowly especially for above 3000 meters it is recommended not to ascend more than 500 meters a day.
  2. Avoid liquor and keep yourself hydrated with water
  3. Ensure your energy level step up through high calorie diet

Medication / Treatment

  1. Diamox has been proven effective and safe but it has side effect of increased need to urinate
  2. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can reduce headache (mild altitude sickness)
  3. Promethazine for vomiting and nausea (mild altitude sickness)
  4. Tingling sensations can also be a sign of frostbite, so keep your hands and feet wrapped up warmer if trekking in colder climates and check them regularly
  5. If you have developed mild altitude sickness, you ought not to advance to a higher height until the point that your side effects have been satisfactorily overseen. If you discover your indications are deteriorating and not enhancing with treatment, descend promptly and look for medicinal consideration before the condition turns out to be increasingly serious.



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