Altitude Mountain Sickness, Preventions and Treatments

ALTITUDE SICKNESS IN TREKKING IN NEPAL AND ITS PREVENTIONS

Getting caught by the altitude sickness is disastrous but bad things happen sometimes. Although trekking in Nepal is a famous adventure traveling activity, it is not free of risks. One of the major risk factors of trekking in the mountains of Nepal is altitude sickness. As trekking trail in the mountains of Nepal meanders towards the higher elevation, trekkers are prone to getting caught by the altitude sickness. With a timely and careful observation and attention, we can lessen the risk and mitigate the situation if, unfortunately, caught by it.

What is Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

The barometric pressure drops and level of oxygen is low at the high elevation. When we are suddenly exposed to this situation, our body struggles to adjust with the atmosphere. When we travel from low to higher altitude and go above 2,500 meters / 8,200 feet, we are always vulnerable to the altitude sickness. Our body takes time to adjust in the situation.

Types of altitude sickness: There are three types of altitude sickness.

1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) – AMS is the initial phase of the altitude sickness where we feel dizzy, headache, loss of hunger, tiredness, bad sleep, nausea, muscle ache etc. This is the most common thing to happen in the high elevation and can be treated easily if timely attention and care is given. But if we ignore this situation; to not to do anything to get rid of this problem, it can lead us to worse condition to the next level of altitude sickness

2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) – HAPE is the situation of altitude sickness where our lungs fill with fluid and this situation can be life threatening. AMS leads to HAPE is not taken care on time.

3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) – This is the worst situation of altitude sickness. When a person reaches the HACE stage, there is a build-up of fluid in the brain and the person needs an immediate evacuation and medical assistance. This is the critical stage and life threatening condition

Prevention of Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness can happen to anyone – from a novice trekker to a seasoned alpinist – and anytime in the higher elevation. A few things determine the level of risk of getting it. If we take care of few things while going to a higher elevation, we can lessen the risk.

  • Walk slowly up the mountain
  • Take enough time to acclimatize before going higher
  • Drink enough water
  • Don’t get dehydrated
  • Eat enough and right
  • No to alcohol consumption at the higher elevation
  • Know well what is going on with your body
  • Communicate what you are feeling with others

Treatment of Altitude Sickness

The AMS can be treated with enough care, hydration, and getting to a lower altitude. But if the sickness develops to HAPE and HACE, we need to seek immediate evacuation and medical treatment.

Altitude sickness can happen to anyone regardless of the fitness level, times you’ve been to high altitude and your age. So, taking very careful steps up in the mountains and knowing what is going on in the body is the best way to prevent and deal with the altitude sickness.