What happens to the body during altitude illness?
- The body tries to adapt to having less available oxygen by increasing the rate and depth of breathing, as well as the heart rate.
- Fluids accumulate in between the cells in the brain, the lungs or both, creating mild to severe symptoms.
- Mild symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, insomnia and dizziness.
- These symptoms are usually resolved by spending one or two extra nights at the same altitude.
- If symptoms worsen, descent to lower altitudes is warranted.
- If you are resting at the same altitude and your symptoms worsen, then it is also necessary to descend.
- More serious symptoms of AMS include increased tiredness, severe headaches, vomiting, loss of coordination, shortness of breath and coughing fits.
- These extremely dangerous symptoms are called high altitude cerebral edema (or HACE). They can lead to unconsciousness and death within 12 hours.
- Increasing shortness of breath, cough and tiredness may also be signs of high altitude
- pulmonary edema or HAPE. This condition can rapidly prove to be fatal if ignored.
- Respiratory depression (the slowing down of breathing) can be caused by various substances, and may be a problem at altitude.
What you have to do if you get mild symptoms:
- If you get mild symptoms, stop and relax (with your head out of sun) and drink some fluids frequently.
- Stop and have a rest more and take 125-250mg Diamox, it generally takes one to four hours to be cool down.
- Take 125-250mg Diamox in the evening and drink plenty of fluids.
- If you feel a bit better, don't leave taking precautions at the point, take another 250mg Diamox 6-8 hours later.
- If the symptoms continue to get worse, try to descend down, acclimatize and again ascend up.
The symptoms of serious AMS:
- Persistent and severe headache.
- Persistent vomiting.
- An inability to walk in a straight line and making the sufferer look drunk.
- Losing consciousness.
- Mental confusion.
- Liquid sounds in the lungs.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Rapid breathing or feeling breathless at rest.
- Coughing clear fluid, pink phlegm or blood (a very bad sign).
- Marked blueness of face and lips.
- High resting heartbeat (over 130 beats per minute)
- Mild symptoms rapidly getting worse.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), dangerous cases of AMS
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
Prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
- Make sufficient time for acclimatization (After 3000 meters).
- Don't ascent up rapidly.
- Don't' use alcohol, sleeping pills and smoking.
- Drink more fluid 3-4 liters a day, clean boiled water / tea / coffee / soup / juice etc.
- Climb high and sleep low.
- Don't go trekking alone, take guide/porter.
- Follow the advice from your guide, hotel, local people, guide book.
- Descent if mild symptoms rapidly getting worse.
- Never leave or descent sick person along.
- Avoid getting cold.
- Take an easy and comfortable trekking route even if its longer.
- Sleep more than normal..
|Causes of Altitude sickness and treatment |
How to prevent altitude sickness during Nepal trekking ?
- Walk the talk
- Climb high/ Sleep low
- Push the fluids
- No alcohol
- Know yourself
- Train at home
- Be honest
- Acetazolamide or Diamox
- Garlic soup