All you need to know about High Altitude Sickness and AMS

All you need to know about High Altitude Sickness and AMS

When you’re 8000 feet above the sea level or higher, trekking the mighty Himalayas with your group, there might be chances of suffering from altitude sickness, commonly referred to as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Before conducting any kind of trekking expedition or groupouting in higher altitudes, every team member must have a good understanding of the effects of high altitude sickness, measures to prevent it and how to deal with AMS in high altitude.

Undertsanding Higher Altitudes and health threats

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As we move up the mountains, there are reduced levels of oxygen, severe cold, higher concentration of UV radiation, decreased humidity and other environmental changes that affect our body instantly. Our body’s (most common) response to low oxygen diffusion causes breathlessness, among other reactions. Trekking the trails of the highest mountain ranges can be immensely gratifying, provided one is aware of the dangers of ill preparation before hiking on the high altitude.

Intense cold, decreased oxygen levels and a quick drop in temperature can cause havoc in the human body. Lack of fluids from lungs and brain capillaries to our body causes fatigue and head ache. If one doesn’t follow proper acclimatization, the condition can lead to a potential life threatening sickness. The chances of altitude sickness occurs especially if a traveler ascends to higher altitude in a short duration of time, without proper acclimatization, allowing the body to cope up with the sudden drop in the temperature and other rapid environmental alterations.

Take a look at the change in our body’s oxygen levels as we gain altitude.

Oxygen levels falls with altitude gain

Source: http://goo.gl/Rjy906

How to prevent high-altitude-sickness?

Discipline and proper precaution is enough to stay fit and prevent mountain sickness, provided you do not have a history of any chronic illness. That said, it is prudent to understand the symptoms, so that you can administer medication should you or a co traveler be taken ill while trekking in higher altitudes. Most common symptoms altitude sickness are experiencing dizziness and headache. Headache can get really bad if the sickness persists, accompanied by fatigue, sometimes vomiting, food aversion, and breathlessness with rapid pulse rate. It has been found that the condition tends to get worse at night with decreased respiratory drive. In case of moderate to severe altitude sickness, aforesaid symptoms get severe affecting the human heart, nervous system and lungs, requiring immediate attention and therapy. Note that a physically fit person is equally prone to developing high altitude sickness or AMS if not aware of the guidelines set by your tour instructor. Below are a few guidelines to follow before and during a high altitude mountain trek.

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