Preventing altitude sickness during Trekking in Nepal

Altitude Sickness is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude. It is difficult to determine who may be affected by altitude sickness since there are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility. However most people can ascend to 2,500 meters with little or no effect.

Symptoms

Symptoms often manifest themselves six to ten hours after ascent and generally subside in one to two days, but they occasionally develop into the more serious conditions.

Symptoms of Mild AMS:

  • Headache
  • Nausea & Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disturbed sleep
  • General feeling of malaise

Symptoms tend to be worse at night. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within two to four days as the body acclimatizes. As long as symptoms are mil ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip.

 Symptoms of moderate AMS:

  • Severe headache that is not relieved by medication
  • Nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased co-ordination (ataxia).

With the gain in the altitude, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can affect the trekkers and mountaineers. Here are few to be listed in Nepal

  • Annapurna Base Camp
  • Langtang Goshainkunda Trekking
  • Everest Basecamp
  • Annapurna Circuit Trekking – Thorang la pass
  • Upper Mustang “Forbidden Kingdom”
  • Kanchenjunga Trekking
  • Manaslu Area
  • Larke La Peak Climbing
  • Pisang Peak
  • Makalu Trek
  • Everest Expedition
  • Island Peak Climbing
  • Mera Peak Climbing
  • Ama Dablam Expedition
  • Everest Expedition
  • Upper Dolpa and others Himalayas.

 Prevention

  • Ascending slowly is the best way to avoid altitude sickness.
  • Avoiding strenuous activity in the first 24 hours at high altitude reduces the symptoms of AMS.
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid alcohol as it tends to cause dehydration, which exacerbates AMS,

Altitude acclimatization

is the process of adjusting to decreasing oxygen levels at higher elevations, in order to avoid altitude sickness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altitude_sickness – cite_note-Acclimatization-16 Extending the time spent at higher altitudes let the body adjust to the oxygen level there, a process that involves the production of additional red blood cells. Once above approximately 3,000 metres most climbers and high-altitude trekkers take the “climb-high, sleep-low” approach.

 Treatment

The only reliable treatment and in many cases the only option available is to descend. Attempts to treat or stabilize the patient in situ at altitude is dangerous unless highly controlled and with good medical facilities.