How to Prevent High Altitude Sickness

  posted by: Gretchen



prevent high altitude sicknessOne of the sicknesses that prevent you from enjoying outdoor activities like skiing, mountain climbing, backpacking, and others is the so-called high altitude sickness or mountain sickness.  Having this hinders you from enjoying the pleasures of trekking a mountain.  Altitude sickness can happen in some people as low as 8, 000 ft, but serious symptoms are not usually manifested until over 12, 000 ft.

What Causes High Altitude Sickness ?

  • Lack of oxygen.  As you go higher the air becomes thinner and that means less oxygen is in the atmosphere.  The absence of enough oxygen causes a decreased amount of oxygen in your blood.  This condition is called hypoxia.  Everyone can experience this but it is worse for people who have lung or heart problems.

What are the Symptoms of High Altitude Sickness ?

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • General feeling of malaise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the face, feet, and hands

They symptoms tend to be worse at night but the good news is that its symptoms generally settle in 2-4 days.  If the condition becomes worse, you should descend to low altitude immediately to avoid complications like high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE).  Having flu or cold is not a sign of this sickness.

Prevention of High Altitude Symptoms

Here are the steps that you can take on how to prevent high altitude sickness. Take a look at the following.

  • Consider driving instead of taking the plane to your destination.
  • Take it slow.  The slower you ascend the better.  Doing this will give you enough time to acclimate or get used to the altitude.  This is one good way to prevent the sickness.
  • Stay hydrated.  Drinking water is good.  It also helps eliminate a minor headache.
  • Avoid having heavy meals.  Big meals are not good for you.  Eat something light like chicken soup to reduce your chance of having suffering from this sickness or food poisoning.
  • Consider using acetazolamide (Diamox) to speed up acclimization.

If there are serious symptoms, better go down and let the doctor cure you. Don’t risk your life just to have fun.  Hope this helps.


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