When you are trekking in the hills of Nepal, on the altitude above 3000 meters, one of the biggest concerns is not to be a victim of Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). This may be of mild to serious in intensity and the symptoms can go from mild to serious stage rapidly if the mild symptoms are ignored. Thus, it is essential that all the trekkers be aware of this health issue.
Altitude Sickness is the inability of the body to adapt to the higher altitude when a person ascends to higher altitude rapidly, without giving one’s body enough time to adapt to the changes caused due to increasingly thinner air. With increasing altitude body makes certain changes due to the lack of oxygen which include faster breathing, getting shorter breathe with increased activity and passing urine more frequently.
The risk factors for Altitude Sickness include quick movement to higher altitude, unnecessary strenuous activity on ascend, past history of AMS suffering, low count of RBC on the blood, and heart and lung disease among other factors. The symptoms of AMS include dizziness, headache, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat, swelling of limbs and so on. Severe symptoms include chest congestion, lack of balance while walking and pale complexion. The faster the symptoms are treated, the better and faster recovery you have.
For preventing the altitude sickness acclimatization is the first and the most important measure. Always keep in mind that it is not the height that causes the problem, it is the speed with which you ascend to higher altitude. Be slow and steady on the trekking trail. Being hydrated is another vital tip for avoiding AMS and beside that avoiding unnecessary physical exertions and alcoholic beverages, taking medications are the other necessary preventive measures.
After you catch Altitude Sickness, the first thing you have to do, for its treatment, is to descend to lower altitude, no matter the time and your temptation to go ahead. Arrange for horse, porter or helicopter for immediate rescue that carries you to lower altitude for treatment. Get hydrated with water, reduce your activity level and rest for couple of days before moving ahead in the trail. The medications for treatment include acetazolamide for correcting breathing problems, aspirin, lung inhalers, medicine for decreasing brain swelling and blood pressure medicines.
Thus, for avoiding the severity of altitude sickness, follow the instructions of guides and share any feeling of discomfort with them as guides are aware of the possible problems related to the physical condition of trekkers. Guides these are well trained for dealing with such problems. In addition to that, get insured for emergency evacuation and make arrangements for such rescue besides the preventive measures mentioned above. Make altitude your aide and not enemy during trekking in Nepal!