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Altitude Sickness while Trekking in Nepal

Nepal is a beautiful landlocked country where you can have a glimpse of incredible views of mountains. But sometimes those mountains bring many challenges while we are going up and altitude sickness can be one of them. Before you book a trip to Nepal, here are some things about altitude sickness which should be known by every visitor. They are:

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness is also called mountain sickness. When you are in above 8000ft. (2,400m), risk of having altitude sickness is high.  Altitude sickness is a group of symptoms that can strike if you walk or climb to a higher elevation or altitude, too quickly. It is a negative health effect of high altitude, caused by rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation.

Where does Altitude sickness occur?

As we mentioned earlier, if you are above 8000ft (2,400m) and your body can’t adjust to the environment of the higher place that includes the Himalayas of Nepal in that situation altitude sickness will occur. The higher you go higher risk will occur. Every mountain above 8000ft (2,400m) is a risk zone. But if you live in a place which is located at a high altitude, your body can easily adjust the air pressure and you will not have any more problems.

Why does altitude sickness happen at high elevation?

The pressure of the air that surrounds you is called barometric pressure. When you go to higher altitudes, this pressure drops and there is less oxygen available. If your body can’t adjust that pressure of air then you will face problem which is altitude sickness. Higher elevation doesn’t change the oxygen of the environment however it can lead to a decrease in the number of oxygen molecules per breath. Because we consume less oxygen at higher elevation it can cause altitude sickness.


What are the altitude sickness symptoms?

Symptoms of altitude sickness come on within 12 to 14 hours of reaching high elevation and you will feel better after your body adjust the surroundings. Symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue\loss of energy
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Loss of appetite

If you don’t feel anything right with your body and your situation is getting worst you will have symptoms like, loss of coordination and trouble walking, tightening in the chest, and a severe headache that doesn’t get better with medication. 

What are the key precautions and immediate action to avoid high altitude sickness?

The medical treatment of patients is always done by seeing sign, symptoms, and their condition. Hence, precautions for symptoms of altitude sickness are:

Descending

Descending is the most used precaution for altitude sickness. If you are feeling uneasy up there it will be always a better idea to move to lower heights and remain there for 24 hours, where you can breathe full oxygen and where your body could easily adjust to the environment. 

Deep breathing 

After a while you realize you are having shortness of breath, we would like to request you to take a long deep breath and get relaxed. You can rest somewhere and breathe deeply. The more you breathe deeply the more oxygen you will get. So deep breathing is also a good idea for altitude sickness.

Slower pace 

The higher you go you will get more tired and since there is less oxygen your body may not help you to move as faster as you walk on a normal day. So we would like to suggest you just slow down your pace. Slowing down your speed of walking will help your body to work properly and you will not be in the worst situation of altitude sickness.

Even rhythm 

Keeping up breathing is always a challenging thing to do in higher altitudes than a dropdown.  If you focus on the rhythm of your breathing, it can protect you from making a physical and mental effort. 

Hydrate

Hydration is always a preventive measure for altitude sickness. As up you go your body loses more water and it can bring you in a bad situation. So drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated so that you can reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Reduce Exertion

Forcing your body to make your dream come true is good sometimes but at a higher altitude, it is not a good idea to force your body to walk and going up and up. So try to get some rest and seek help from other team members to reduce symptoms of altitude sickness. 

Altitude Sickness Acclimatization 

The rules for all trekkers are “climb high, sleep low.” Whenever you go for a trek in higher altitudes, you must follow these rules to avoid altitude sickness problems. It may take a long day but taking a short day and have altitude sickness up there, it is a situation where you will regret your decision. Trekkers should always follow these rules and should give rest to their bodies at low heights. It will help to maintain balance and your body also can adjust to the higher altitudes too. The routes of trekking which will be zigzag also help your body to adjust to the new temperatures. In Nepal, while you are traveling tour operators will make sure if you have appropriate acclimatization or not before you reached higher altitudes.

We request all visitors to avoid shortcuts. Shortcuts are not a good idea to trek in higher altitudes. It will bring you into a terrible situation. So if you don’t have time to do a long trek than it will be better if you postponed your plan or you can also choose a short trek for your short holiday. here is some short trek which is altitude risk-free zone Poon hill trek, Annapurna base camp trek, khopra ridge trek.