You are at the lowest possible altitude when you are at sea level, the higher you go the less oxygen there is in the air and when you’re hiking at a high altitude such as the Everest Base Camp Trek the body can react to the lower amount of oxygen in the air. This is altitude sickness.
Yes, there are 3 different types of altitude sickness. These are:
Acute mountain sickness: This is the most common form of altitude sickness that we see people struggle with on the Himalayan mountain trails. This is also the mildest form of altitude sickness and recovery happens very quickly once the person returns to a lower altitude.
High altitude cerebral edema (HACE): This is not common at all and is an emergency situation. It is more common for mountaineers to experience this form of altitude sickness.
High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE): This is a very dangerous type of altitude sickness which requires emergency evacuation to a hospital. It occurs when fluid starts filling the lungs. It is uncommon among hikers and tends to mostly affect mountaineers.
The main symptoms of altitude sickness are:
-Feeling light headed and dizzy. You may act and look like you’re drunk when suffering from altitude sickness.
-Loss of appetite and nausea.
-Feeling exhausted and unable to push on.
-Having difficulty sleeping at night.
You can take a few very important steps that will drastically reduce your risk of getting altitude sickness, these are:
Diamox: You must visit your doctor and request a prescription for Diamox, this medication is a preventative not a cure. It must be taken on the first day of your trek until you complete the trek. It won’t cure altitude sickness if you already have it.
Drinking water: You must drink a minimum of 3-4 litres of water a day.
Acclimatisation Days: Your trek to Everest Base Camp should have a couple of acclimatisation days built into the itinerary. On these days you will trek to a higher alitutde and then go back down again, this helps the body adjust to the altitude.
Garlic Soup: The Himalayan people swear by Garlic soup, it’s served at all tea houses!
What should I do if I get altitude sickness?
The steps you need to take if you get altitude sickness include:
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