ALTITUDE SICKNESS (AMS)
What is it?
Altitude sickness is the reaction of the body adjusting to decreasing amount of oxygen. Normally, the less oxygen available for the body to carry on normal function. Altitude sickness commonly occurs above 2800 meter (9200 ft).
Symptoms of altitude sickness
Symptoms most often appear 12-24 hour after ascent and generally severe in 1-2 days as the body adjusts to altitude. If, continue to go higher may more severe.
Symptoms usually occur gradually from Mild, Moderate and severe.
Symptoms are the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Disturbed sleep or Drowsiness
If the body is unable to adjust to altitude these symptoms will continue and If, untreated symptoms develop High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). If ignored it could lead to death.
Symptoms of HAPE (fluid on the lungs)
- Tightness in the chest
- Tired& weary
- Froth and later blood in spit
- Lips, Tongue, Nail became blue
HAPE can develop without the usual symptoms of AMS.
Symptoms of HACE (fluid in the brain)
- severe headache
- Became clumsy
- Act differently-unhelpful, violent, lazy
- May have bad, Nonstop vomiting
- Blurred vision
- See, Hear, Feel, Smell odd things
- Reduced Consciousness
HACE can develop very quickly with no other problems or can follow AMS and HAPE
How to Avoid Altitude Sickness?
Certain Medical condition (respiratory disease) or Medications (sleeping tablet) can increase the risk of altitude sickness-It is important that you inform your Group Leader, Guide, Porters or any of who is behind you any medical condition or medications before you ascending to altitude.
You can help your body to acclimatize and avoid altitude sickness by:-
- *Drinking plenty of water- at least 4 liters per day.
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and substances that can interfere with good delivery of oxygen to the body or cause dehydration.
- Eating a meal high in carbohydrates/fluids forms such as soups and Tea.
- Walk at a slower pace, Take it easy and have a regular break.
TREATMENT OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Most of the traveler is able to successfully acclimatize their body by following the above guidelines. On top of these guidelines, there is some very important point as below:-
GENERAL TREATMENT OF ALTITUDE SICKNESS
- The descent is the main treatment of altitude sickness, prompt descent will begin to reverse symptoms. Descent if immediately symptoms are severe, even if it means at high or in bad weather. Resting at the same altitude is only acceptable if the victim has mild AMS that is improving with treatment.
- Oxygen:- Give oxygen(bottled oxygen, Hyperbaric Bag). This will improve and/ or stabilize the victim’s condition before or during descent, if a meaningful descent is not immediately possible (due to dangerous terrain, bad weather, not enough manpower to carry, an unconscious victim, waiting for a helicopter.
- Keep the victim warm and hydrated and give occasional sugary drinks.
SPECIFIC DRUG TREATMENT
There is specific drug treatment for altitude sickness. But, this normally every traveler needs to know or need to consult with own doctor before traveling in high altitudes.
- Acetazolamide (Diamox)
During the altitude trips, all our leaders have basic first aid tanning and are aware of the closest medical facilities, It is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of traveling at altitude, our leaders always monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.