High altitude sickness often known as acute mountain sickness (A.M.S.) in general may occur when people ascend too quickly normally in altitudes of over 3000 m. Most people will feel some affect of altitude, shortness of breath and possibly a light headed, which is fairly common. Acute mountain sickness is very different and normally involves a severe headache, sickness and loss of awareness. In almost every potential case there are enough warning signs to take appropriate action.
Our expert and trained guides will advise you about any health requirements and also altitude sickness while you are trekking, so you should not worry about it, we do however recommend you get advice from you travel doctor or health advisor before you leave. The following information gives you an idea about high altitude sickness and how to minimize the affects
There are three stages of altitude sickness and symptoms.
1. Normal AMS Symptoms – Should expect but not worry
Following are the normal altitude symptoms that you should expect but not be worried about. Every trekker will experience some or all of these, no matter how slowly they ascend.
2. Mild AMS Symptoms: Don’t go higher
Many trekkers in the high valleys of the Himalaya get mild AMS, admit or acknowledge that you are having symptoms. You need have only one of the following symptoms to be getting altitude sickness.
What to do if a mild symptom doesn’t go way?
If mild symptoms developing while walking, stop, have rest, drink plenty of water and take 125-250mg Diamox. Diamox generally takes one to four hours to begin alleviating symptoms.
If symptoms partially go away but are still annoying, it is safe to take another 250mg Diamox 6-8 hours later.
If mild symptoms continue getting worse try descending for a few hours which may be more beneficial than staying at the same altitude. Going higher will definitely make it worse.
3. Serious AMS Symptoms: Immediate descent
Dangerous Cases of AMS
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
This is a build-up of fluid around the brain. It In most cases the first five symptoms on the mild and severe lists previously. Coma from HACE can lead to unconsciousness are death within 12 hours from the onset of symptoms, but normally takes 1-2 days to develop. At the first sign of ataxia begin treatment with medication, oxygen and descent. Usually 4 to 8mg of dexamethasone is given as a first does, then 4mg every six hours, Diamox every 12 hours and 2-4 liters /minute oxygen. Descent is necessary but a PAC (portable altitude chamber) bag will often be used first if available.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
This is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs and is very serious. It is responsible for all the other mild and serious symptoms and it is often accompanied by a mild fever. By far the treatment is oxygen at 4 liters a minute but using PAC (portable altitude chamber) bag treatment is a good substitute. If there is no PAC bag or oxygen then descent will be life saving. HAPE can lead to unconsciousness are death very quick.
Tips of prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
First Aid Kit
This is the basic list to cover the more common ailments that affect trekkers. Climbing groups, expeditions and trekkers going to isolated areas will need a more comprehensive kit.