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High Altitude Sickness in the Himalayas

The Himalayas are ever breathtaking and getting close to them could be more than amazing. But, you may not able to fully appreciate them if you become the victim of High Altitude Sickness’s traits.

Simply put, Altitude Sickness is a reaction to the body due to a low oxygen level. It is a result of ascending too quickly. And the symptoms worsen as you push the pace to even higher altitudes.

According to altitude studies, we lose 3% of the oxygen molecules we breathe in for every 1,000 feet we climb upwards. Travelers can feel short of breath because they have to breathe more often to make up for the deficit.

Altitude sickness can resemble a terrible hangover with extra symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and exhaustion.

SAY NO MORE TO ALTITUDE SICKNESS!

The biggest fear for anyone considering the Everest Base Camp Trek is altitude sickness. It occurs when the body is not properly accustomed to high altitude, and if not controlled or treated properly it can pose a significant and fatal health risk. That is to say, prevention is much better than cure, and with the right technology, education, and understanding, it will not be a problem for you. Casually follow the points below to avoid harming yourself.

1) STAY HYDRATED!

Having enough water for hiking is important if you want to keep your energy level high and feel good. Re-hydrating along the way is very important. In addition to feeling weak, dehydration makes you more prone to sunburn and hypothermia.

A good general recommendation is about a liter of water per hour of moderate activity at medium temperatures. You may need to increase your drinking intake as the temperature and intensity of the activity increase. For example, walking in high temperatures may require you to drink one liter of water or more per hour. You can easily alternate plain water with a sports drink with electrolytes if disinterested in plain water.

2) GET THE REQUIRED ACCLIMATIZATION

The high chance of getting altitude sickness is moving fast and not giving the required acclimatization to your body. When doing the high altitude treks or journeys, trekkers should always spare the required number of days for rest and acclimatization purpose to get used to the thin air. When you are accompanied by your guide, they will know where to acclimatize and rest. But, in case you see symptoms of AMS, you should always inform as soon as possible because most of the mountain guides are trained regarding these subjects. And actually, some of the Himalayan Trekking like Upper Mustang Trek or Kanchenjunga Trek does not allow trekkers without guide.

3) A GARLIC A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY

One of the most effective natural remedies for high altitude sickness is to have garlic. Garlic helps thin blood vessels and improves blood flow to the body. It also helps to reduce the feeling of dizziness and nausea.

Both garlic and cloves can be eaten raw (in the case of garlic, you need to peel them first) while on the road. In the higher regions of the country, people have garlic soup to combat the effects of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). It is actually considered a delicacy and is offered to travelers.

4) MEDICATION IS A NECESSITY

Medications such as Ibuprofen which can be used to treat the symptoms of mild altitude sickness such as headaches, and nausea, and Diamox (Acetazolamide) – a respiratory stimulant that helps the body to metabolize more oxygen should be a necessary item in your backpack when on a trek.

Usually, your guide will have all the necessary medical kits with them but having an extra pack of medication along with you will make a huge difference.

5) TREK GOES ON WITHOUT BOOZE AND FUMES

Drinking alcohol keeps your body temperature low which can lead to Acute Mountain (AMS) and Hypothermia. This is a serious and common illness and is considered a health hazard for travelers.

Many people like to drink alcohol at high altitudes thinking that it will keep them warm. But this is not recommended at the highest level as alcohol and smoking only invite AMS and increases oxygen deficiency. Thus, it’s a big NO to booze and fumes.But you can have your cheat days during the low Himalayas trekking journeys such as Ghorepani Poonhill Trek.

6) CRUNCH, MUNCH, AND SIP

A simple snack is a key to good energy and efficiency. Ideally, when on a trek you should include healthy snacks full of carbs, fiber, protein, and healthy fats such as whole grains, dried fruits, and nuts. The preferable snacks you should include in your backpack are usually nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs, granola or granola bars, and energy bars.

Since mountain-friendly snacks also require portability and should be able to withstand the hours in your bag and be easy to eat while moving, we highly recommend you to store them in a zip-lock bag and munch on them while walking towards your destination. Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

7) REPEAT! MY POTENTIAL IS LIMITLESS

One thing is for certain i.e. if you push yourself too hard at an altitude, you’ll definitely increase the risk and high chances of altitude sickness and once you have the symptom, there’s no way going back. So prevention is the ultimate key and thus learning to walk slowly becomes a key tool in adaptation, comfort, and ultimately in reaching your goal. While on the path, not giving up is also the key to achieving your goals.

Be fearless and repeat these words- My potential is limitless! And tada you’ll easily manage to conquer without any doubts or fear.

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