Trekking in Nepal, especially in high altitudes like the Everest Region, Annapurna Region, Manaslu Region, Langtang, etc. requires high-altitude climbing. Higher elevation means a more thin oxygen level and low air pressure which causes altitude sickness problems for many trekkers and mountain climbers. Altitude sickness is common when the trekkers either climb or transport the higher elevation within a short period and most common factor that makes the trekking trip a little non-enjoyable.
What is Altitude Sickness?
High altitude can cause a variety of vague symptoms known as altitude sickness. It includes a variety of conditions ranging from acute mountain sickness, which resembles the flu or a hangover, to high altitude cerebral edema, which causes swelling of the brain, or fluid buildup in the lungs (high altitude pulmonary edema). As there are no precise factors that connect with a person's sensitivity to altitude illness, it is difficult to predict who will be afflicted. However, the rate of ascent, altitude reached, and level of physical activity are all factors that affect the illness's development and severity.
Anyone can get altitude sickness, but those who live at sea level in particular need to take it carefully. It starts to show up at 3,500 meters above sea level. Different people may experience different symptoms. Some folks may not experience the same symptoms.
The Common Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness symptoms can vary from person to person, but the ones listed here are some of the most typical signs that someone is suffering from high altitude sickness.
- Shortness of breath and irregular breathing
- Weakness or Fatigue
- Difficulty to get Sleep
- Dizziness, swelling of hands and feet, or heavy legs
- Loss of Appetite
- Constant headache
If the normal symptoms of high altitude sickness are ignored or not treated. To combat high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema will be emphasized in the near future (HACE). The symptoms of altitude sickness or mountain sickness are followed by the development of HACE and HAPE. The major effects of altitude sickness are either fluid accumulation in the lungs or fluid accumulation in the brain. The medical term for breathing water into the lungs is "high altitude pulmonary edema" (HAPE). High altitude cerebral edema (HACE) is a condition where water builds up in the brain. People with a history of altitude sickness are more likely to experience it this time around.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)Symptoms:
- Blurred Vision
- Chest tightness or fullness
- Extreme fatigue
- Blue or gray lips and fingernails
- Noises when breathing such as rattling or gurgling sounds
- Unable to catch a breath
- Coughing, which may produce pink frothy fluid,
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)Symptoms :
- Hallucinations (Seeing and hearing things that are not there or not happening there)
- Headache and vomiting
- Difficulty while walking
- Changes in normal behavior and coma
As a result, if altitude sickness is not properly diagnosed and treated as soon as symptoms appear, it could be fatal. Altitude sickness is often brought on by hurried ascents without appropriate rest.
Luxury holidays Nepal runs trekking trips in such a special way to avoid the risk of altitude sickness. Here are the tips that the LHN team and its guides use to prevent altitude sickness:
Climb Slowly or Ascend Gradually
During High altitude trekking in Nepal, some amateur trekkers use to hike more height to reduce the days and complete the trip fast. Such kind of quick ascend may cause the symptoms of Altitude sickness or Acute mountain sickness.
While Trekking in Nepal, Luxury Holidays Nepal shows calmness and ascends gradually. Our bodies can handle such a shift in altitude and air pressure however need some time to adjust to such changes. Usually, trekkers use to climb about 1000m per day up to 3000m, and 600-800m per day above 3000m up to 4200m. While above 4000m, they use to ascend about 400- 500m per day.
Luxury Holidays also use to trek at a normal pace which also allows enjoying the journey more.
Acclimatization day in High Altitude Area
The primary contributor to altitude sickness is ascending too quickly. Your body will eventually adjust to the lower oxygen levels at a certain altitude. When you are above 3000 M altitude, this adaptation is known as acclimatization and often takes one or two days. Your body responds by increasing the depth and frequency of your breathing in an attempt to raise the blood's oxygen content. By climbing higher slowly and allowing your body to acclimate, you can avoid getting altitude sickness. It is usually possible to prevent major complications of high altitude disease by keeping an eye out for the early warning signs and symptoms and acting swiftly by descending to a lower altitude area. Most of the challenging trekking in Nepal which requires a higher elevation has few days as the acclimatization in the interval of 1500m /2000m ascends. For example, in Everest Base Camp Trek there have acclimatization days in Namche Bazaar and Dingboche.
Eat enough Carbs and High Calories Foods
As trekking in Nepal is a high physical task, it requires high energy and lots of calories. Though fewer calories in daily life are healthy habits, we suggest eating a little more during trekking in Nepal. It helps you to adjust your body to high altitude and also helps to warm the body in the snow. So pack plenty of healthy snacks and high calories foods.
Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
Alcohol drinking causes a low water level in bodies. It causes dehydration so please avoid drinking while trekking if you want to drink at least give enough time to your body to adjust to the environment and drink enough water so no problem of dehydration arises. Remember one more thing that smoking causes breathing problems so avoid smoking also at high altitudes.
Drink Water Enough and Eat More Fluids
Trekkers often say that walking in cold and mountain areas doesn’t exude sweat. Despite none exuding sweat, the body uses more water than in a hot climate. So drinking water enough and eating fluids more help to maintain the water level and rehydrate the body. The low water level in the body also causes altitude sickness as the oxygen is not supplied properly due to the lack of water level in the blood.
Staying hydrated is also important in preventing altitude sickness. Drink water regularly during your climb.
Take it easy and don’t Hurry
Trek altitudes mean something bad may happen. Climb or ascend at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Don’t try to walk too fast and in a hurry, take all the easy and walk normally!
Medicines of AMS
Trekkers usually take medicines to prevent acute mountain sickness. Some trekkers say that AMS medicines prevent the AMS totally but we suggest not fully relying on medicines. We know the cases that even such medicines have not prevented AMS.
Acetazolamide is the most common medicine that trekking is used to prevent AMS. But before using such medicines please visit your doctors and get the suggestion whether to take them or not.
Summarizing all the things, AMS or altitude sickness is the most common factor ruining the whole journey of most trekkers in Nepal. Due to the AMS, they have to quit their journey in the mid. These tricks and tips are not fully trustable. These are tricks but may work or not.
We suggest every trekker who is looking to trek at high altitude to do some physical exercises, breathing exercises, some short hiking tasks, and Yoga too which helps to adjust to the low Oxygen level and thin air.
If you want more information, please contact us.