If you are planning a trip to a high-altitude destination, taking acetaminophen may help reduce your risk of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS), according to a study in the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. AMS occurs most often at 8,000 feet or higher above sea level when people are not acclimatized to the altitude, resulting in headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, intestinal upset, irritability, and trouble sleeping. Altitude sickness, the mildest form being acute mountain sickness (AMS), is the negative health effect of high altitude, caused by rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation.
Mt. Everest (8848m) is not just the world’s tallest mountain, but the highest elevation in the world. Not only the Mt. Everest there are other seven peaks above 8000m. One of the major challenges at such an altitude is low air pressures. Dealing with Everest Base Camp and other peaks Altitude Sickness or any Base other high altitude treks sickness is difficult. The Base Camp Altitude sickness normally starts to show its effect from 4,000 meters above.
Moving higher, the air keeps on getting thinner and at the base camp, the oxygen level falls by almost 50 percent. Sometimes our body fails to adopt at such atmospheric condition and trekkers suffers from altitude sickness. Plus the wind, strong sun, cold, and dry air creates a hostile atmosphere for the trekkers on the high altitude. Here is how to Prevent Altitude Sickness. You can use the technique to prevent Altitude Sickness at any high altitude trek.
Types of Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is of three types:
Acute Motion Sickness:
When one part of your balance-sensing system (sensory nerves, inner ears, and eyes) senses that your body is in motion but the other parts are not its Acute Motion Sickness.
High altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE):
HAPE occurs when the lungs are filled with fluids making breathing very difficult.
High altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE):
HACE also occurs when fluids build upon the brain.
Cause of Altitude Sickness:
Obviously, the decreasing amount of oxygen intake causes altitude sickness. The air is made of 21% of oxygen in the atmosphere which remains constant even at higher altitudes. But due to decreased density of the atmosphere, when you take a breath, the oxygen availability in the air also becomes less.
Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
If your body adjusted to the higher altitude, it will behave normally. But if your body failed to produce enough RBC then you will face the following symptoms.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) Symptoms:
• Poor appetite
• Poor sleep or sleep disturbance
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
• Severe headache
• Increase in Clumsiness
• Mood swings
• Vision is blurred
These symptoms should be taken seriously and treated equally. If you leave a person with HACE it can be life-threatening.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) symptoms
• Constant Coughing
• Trouble in Breathing
• Foam in Saliva
• Blueness in lips, tongue or nails
• Blood is seen in Saliva
You should not leave these symptoms unattended- descend immediately and provide medical treatment.
Prevention of Base Camp Altitude Sickness Sickness:
Avoid Energetic Activities:
Avoid strenuous activity that it will induce altitude sickness- immediately minimize the exhausting activity you’re doing.
During the trek, lower the weight in your backpack and do not take part in optional side treks to the glaciers.
Drink a lot of pure water to stay hydrated and completely alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates your body and worsens the symptoms of AMS. Drink as much water as you can salt through food or rehydration powders.
Keep your hands during meal times with sanitizers and do not contaminate your food with dirty hands. The contaminated food causes stomach problems which result in dehydration.
The use of medicines like Diamox or Acetazolamide tablets helps your body to adjust to the high carbon dioxide levels due to the higher altitudes.
125mg to 250mg of doses two times a day starting two days before the trek is recommended to avoid the sickness. You should continue the dosage of 3 days when you reach the highest altitude.
Reproductive Health at high altitude:
If you experience heavy periods consult with your physician for iron supplements. Since high altitude effect, RBC which carries the iron, heavy loss of blood can be harmful. Consumption of contraceptive pills can also increase blood clots.
Lastly, the situation can get tricky at higher altitude but you can control it.
Be careful and take care of yourself. Good luck!