Altitude Sickness

High Altitude Sickness

High altitude sickness is known as an Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Generally it occurs when people ascend up to the high altitude too quickly [generally above 3000 m]. But, we make sure that none of our guest will get such sickness during trek/tour, for the reason we have all the preparation beforehand.

Most trekkers will feel some affect of altitude, such as shortness of breath and possibly light headed, which is fairly common. AMS is very different and if a person suffers from this sickness s/he gets brutal headache and will be unconscious either. But, there are various symptoms beforehand and we have sufficient time to take precautions.

While you are in trekking and climbing, our well trained guides will time and again brief you what sort of precautions you have to take to be prevented from such sickness, therefore, you don't have to worry for the matter, we also recommend you get some advice from your travel doctor or health advisor before you leave to trek.
The following information will also give you some idea about high altitude sickness and precaution steps.

There are three stages of altitude sickness and symptoms:-

1. The symptoms of normal AMS: -
Guess! It may occur to you as well but do not worry.
Following are the symptoms of AMS and some precaution steps: No, doubt, ever trekker will experience some or all of these, no matter how slowly they ascend up to the high altitude.

  Running nose.
  Increasing urination while moving to/at higher altitudes (a good sign).
Occasional loss of appetite.
Periodic breathing.
  Vivid and wild dreams especially at around 2500-3800 meters in high altitude.

2. The symptoms of Mild AMS:-
Many trekkers in the high altitude get mild AMS. The following are the symptoms of such sickness.

  Mild headache
  Dry Raspy cough.
  Loss of appetite.
  Running nose.
  Hard to breath.
  Loss of appetite.

What you have to 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.

3. 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

If, the above mention symptoms get worse and s/he could not take any precautions, one can die within the period of 12 hours, but if one takes precautions immediately, it takes one or two days to get well.

Therefore, if one gets such symptoms, it is better one take treatment with medication, oxygen and descent down. Usually 4 to 8mg of dexamethasone is given as a first dose to those who suffer from such sickness and then 4mg Diamox is given an every six hours gap. Similarly, 2-4 litres/minute oxygen is given and one is taken to down if it is necessary.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE):-

This is a serious case, if one gets the above mention symptoms worse, furthermore, if one accumulates of fluid in the lungs and mild fever, and then, there is chance of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). The treatment, one is give the oxygen at the rate of 4 liters a minute, using Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC). If there is no PAC bag or oxygen then one is taken down to the low altitude, it is only the way of life saving. The HAPE can also lead to unconsciousness are death in short period of time.

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.

First Aid Kit:
This is the basic lists for the climbing groups, expeditions and trekkers who are going to isolated areas alone.

   Bandage for sprains.
   Iodine or water filter (optional).
  Moleskin/Second skin - for blisters.
  Antiseptic ointment for cuts.
  Anti-bacterial throat lozenges (with antiseptic)
  Aspirin/Paracetamol - general painkiller.
  Oral rehydration salts.
  Broad-spectrum antibiotic (norfloxacin or ciprofloxin).
  Anti-diarrhoea medication (antibiotic).
   Diarrhea stopper (Imodium - optional).
  Antibiotic for Guardia or similar microbe or bacteria.
   Diamox 250/500mg (for altitude sickness).
  Sterile Syringe set (anti-AIDS precaution).
  Gel hand cleaner.