Altitude sickness, which is also known as Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS is more common than what is generally perceived. Some trekkers develop mild symptoms of AMS above 8000 feet but generally it is after 10,000 feet that symptoms generally appear. In the Himalayas AMS is the leading cause of death among climbers. The intention of this blog is to share key details about AMS including how to recognise it and few remedies to prevent or manage AMS.
Preventing Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness can hit anyone a trek or mountain climb regardless of fitness or age. The only factor that might indicate if you will be affected by altitude sickness is if you’ve had it before. It is important to be aware of AMS and take a few precautions to prevent it. The main reason AMS happens is due to ascending too fast and over-exertion.
Altitude Sickness Remedies
The best way to prevent altitude sickness is avoid climbing more than 500m per day and taking a rest day after 3 days of continuous climb. Another You practice which supports accclimitization is to do a height gain after reaching camp and then descending down to camp an hour later. It also helps if one avoids strenuous activity, especially the first day you reach a new altitude. It is also mandatory to drink a lot of water and four liters of water per day is recommended. One should also avoid alcohol at altitude as it causes dehydration. One can also consider taking the drug Diamox. It only works as a preventative measure, so you’ll need to start taking it before you begin to ascend. There are side effects, and it does not prevent altitude sickness. But it can lessen the symptoms and help you acclimatize faster. The typical dose for diamox is 125mg morning and evening.
Recognising and acting upon Altitude Sickness Symptoms
It is important to be aware of symptoms related to AMS. If any symptom appear along with headache the protocol is to stop sending and stay on at the same altitude. If the symptoms appear to be building up the trip leader may take a decision of making the participant descend. The most common symptoms include
• Nausea and vomiting
• Lack of appetite
• Restless sleep
• Upset stomach
• Feeling unsteady
• Shortness of breath
Prevention is Better than Cure
The key to prevention of AMS is to ascend gradually, be hydrated and rest when starting out the trek. It is also better to avoid alcohol and have regular meals and drink four liters of water per day. By following these tips and knowing the symptoms, most people can avoid AMS.