Altitude sickness also known as Acute mountain sickness (AMS) develop to those who ascend the mountain trails in high altitude too quickly. In the high altitude the body does not get enough Oxygen due to the thinning of air. The next factor is dehydration which occurs due to water vapour from lungs evaporating at a higher rate and there is less moisture at high altitude.
Proper acclimatization is very important to allow a gradual gain in altitude having extra days to allow for acclimatization. By slowly gaining height we reap the benefits of a gradual gain in fitness and acclimatization. Many of our trekking routes are especially planned to avoid acute mountain sickness.
Symptoms of mountain sickness in higher altitude:
Minor symptoms to worsening symptoms of mountain sickness such as headache, loss of appetite, insomnia and drowsiness occur while trekking to higher altitude in Nepal.
Severe symptoms include shortness of breath (even when resting), migraine like headache, vomiting, coughing, retinal haemorrhage, edema, visual impairment, bladder & bowel dysfunction, loss of coordination.
How to prevent mountain sickness:
- Take your time: As a general rule one should not climb more than 300 meters (1,000 ft) a day.
- Not to sleep at a higher place: You should not sleep at a higher place than where you climbed that day. In other words, sleep at a lower altitude than where you climbed in a day. Even if it means going back down the trail to find a lower spot.
- Descent: Get to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
- Allow extra day at higher altitude for acclimatization in Nepal: Proper acclimatization is very important to allow a gradual gain in altitude. Many of our treks are designed with extra days for proper acclimatization. By slowly gaining altitude we reap the benefits of a gradual gain in fitness and acclimatization. On our climbing trips in Nepal and trekking trips in Tibet we carry a portable altitude chamber as an extra safety precaution.