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High Altitude Sickness

High altitude sickness while travelling in the Mountains of Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan

Trekking is many people’s passion and everyone who does it wants to enjoy it no matter which place and how high. Most of them enjoy it but some suffer and trekking becomes a trouble for many rather than enjoyment. One of the most common problem people face during trekking is Acute Mountain Sickness or high attitude sickness. Especially while people are trekking around the Himalayas they face problems related to climbing high altitude areas. You are likely to get altitude sickness when you are trekking more than 3000m but symptoms may be seen even at much lower altitudes on how active you are and how your body responds to the lack of oxygen and one more important thing is where you come from. For e.g. if you come from sea level at normal conditions 3000 m can be considered as very high and for people living in 2500m, 3000 m is not that high. There are different factors trekkers should understand and keep in mind regarding altitude sickness. Following the right ways leads to sickness free trekking experience and if not helps to minimize the effects of AMS or acute mountain sickness. If you ignore the first symptoms which are usually mild then you can have severe problems related to mountain sickness.  Going up very rapidly is one of the major reasons of this problem. Consumption of alcohol and smoking also can be reasons for this sickness. Having a medical checkup is the best precaution to be taken for mountain sickness before you arrive in Nepal, Tibet or Bhutan.
We advise our clients to remember the following suggestion when you are on trekking in the high altitude areas above 3000 meters. The following are the basic symptoms of the altitude sickness and to avoid such sickness we recommend few important points.

1. Mild Symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Difficulty in urination.
  • Headache.
  • Breathing problem.
  • Nausea
  • Weakness especially in joints.
  • Thirstiness and mild fever.

2. Serious Symptoms:

  • Hands and face swell and become unnaturally red.
  • Difficulty in standing properly.
  • Gurgling sound in the chest
  • Loss of energy
  • Vomiting.

What is the cure for Altitude sickness/Acute mountain sickness?
The best precaution against altitude sickness is acclimatization. You have to go up gradually with enough rest and try to climb not more than 500-600 meters height a day in terms of going up. Drinking plenty of water also helps as the thin air in the high altitude dehydrates your body. We recommend you to drink atleast 4 liters of water every day during the trek. The locals use garlic and ginger as remedy for altitude sickness you can try having garlic soup as well. Going little higher than the day camp/teahouse and returning back also helps to adjust with the altitude. Diamox is the best medicine if you are not sure. Before trekking you can use Diamox as recommended by the physician.

If you have serious symptoms of altitude going down atleast 500-900m is the best remedy. You have to do it even if is dark or evening time. In such case we will arrange for a horse or porter whichever is available and bring you down. There is communication facility at Namche Bazaar; Doctors at Khunde hospital in the Everest Area and HRA Clinics and in some trekking areas also have the Gamow Bag. The hospital or the clinic will take fees or charges for such services. Rescue or evacuation by a chopper can be organized if you are insured for that.