Acute Mountain Sickness - High Altitude Disease
`Who prepared fysically and trained well before heading to the Himalayas, has as only concern the high altitude. Altitude sickness is unpredictable: it can happen to anyone, trained or untrained. Often well-trained trekkers are more susceptible for symptoms of altitude sickness, mainly because they walk too fast and do not give their body enough time to acclimatize to the height`.
Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness
Altitude sickness is a condition that you can get when you go trekking at high altitude in the Nepalese Himalayas. You can get the symptoms during a rapid ascent to altitudes above 2500 meters. The sensitivity to symptoms of altitude disease varies from person to person.
Not suffering any symptoms during one trek, doesn`t safeguard you from symptoms during your next trek. You can always get it. One of the first symptoms is a slight headache when you get up in the morning.
There are different forms of altitude sickness, all of them are caused by a lack of oxygen. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is common but not life-threatening if dealt wit correctly. Both high altitude cerebral oedema (HACE) as high altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE) are less common but life-threatening.
Typically, symptoms of acute mountain sickness appear within 12 hours of the ascent. If you now stay at the same altitude and rest, usually the symptoms disappear over several hours and you are now acclimatized to this altitude. The symptoms may reappear as you ascend higher, as acclimatization to the new altitude has to take place all over again.
After a recent height gain you have the following symptoms:
* You have a headache, typically throbbing and worse when bending or lying down;
* There are one or more of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue, tiredness, weakness, lassitude
- Loss of appetite, or nausea, or vomiting
- Dizziness, light-headeness
- Poor sleep, disturbed sleep, frequent waking, periodic breathing.
If these symptoms become worse, this can develop in high altitude cerebral oedema (HACE) or high altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE).
Altitude sickness can be prevented by giving your body enough time to acclimatize. Drink plenty of water (1L per 1,000 meters above sea level) and avoid coffee or alcohol. Do the climb at a slow pace and hold regular rests during your trek.
What to do
Inform your guide immediately if you have symptoms of altitude sickness. People often refuse to admit they have altitude illness and blame their symptoms on cold, heat, infection, alcohol, insomnia, exercise, unfitness or migraine, and risk death by continuing to ascend.
Descent is the treatment. Prompt descent will begin to reverse the symptoms. Descend immediately if the symptoms are severe, even if it means at night or in bad weather. Descend at least 1000 metres.
Our guides had additional training on altitude sickness and have experience with dealing with it. The guide gives advise and will tell you what to do in your specific situation. The treatment of severe altitude sickness is always descending immediately and seeking medical help.
If you want to prepare thoroughly
for your high altitude expedition ...
Informing yourself is the best prevention.