How to Handle the High Altitude Sickness While Trekking in Nepal?

High altitude sickness and preventions!
  • Rajesh Neupane
  • Last Updated on Mar 25, 2023

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Are you planning to trek in the Himalayas in Nepal? The mountainous country Nepal offers the most beautiful trekking routes on the earth such as Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp, and Manaslu Circuit Trek are the few to be named. While the majority of the trekking routes lead from lowland to above 5000 m, it is so important to have a good understanding regarding High altitude Sickness before beginning your adventure.

What is High Altitude Sickness?

High Altitude Sickness is also called Acute Mountain Sickness. It is the effect of decreased oxygen levels at high altitudes on the body when it hasn't had sufficient time to adapt. Other aspects such as dehydration, rushing during hikes, and inappropriate gear can also be contributing factors. Normally altitude sickness occurs from above 2500m to higher up. Short breathing, fatigue, nausea, rapid pulse, dizziness, headache, vomiting, fever, losing appetite, short sleep, etc are the basic symptoms of high altitude sickness. However, there are three major sicknesses such as:-

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

AMS is the basic form of altitude sickness such as nausea, dizziness, headache, tiredness, difficulty sleeping, vomiting, losing appetite, fever, coughing, short breathing, etc. However, AMS affects two major parts of our bodies. 

1. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

It is a buildup of fluid in the lungs that can be very dangerous and life-threatening. On top of the basic symptoms, you may encounter coughing, short breathing, breaking sleep, blue skin color, dramatic drop oxygen level, rapid pulse, etc.

2. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

It is a buildup of fluid in the brain which is even worse and life-threatening too. You may begin from basic symptoms like AMS then lead to confusion, losing consciousness, walking like a drunker, high fever, boom headache, swelling face, etc.

Comparatively, HAPE and HACE are rare than AMS but can be fatal.

How to Prevent High Altitude Sickness?

There are many ways to prevent AMS such as —

  • Ensure you have an experienced guide
  • Proper trekking gear and dress up
  • Slow and steady progress while hiking
  • Hike higher, sleep lower
  • Maintain eating habits and drink sufficient amounts of water
  • Abstain from alcohol and smoking higher than 3000 m
  • Observe proper acclimatization procedures (Normally acclimatization day(Rest day) begins from 3000 m and every 1000 m ascending take an acclimatization day)
  • Listening to the guidance of your trained guides and your body
  • Take appropriate medications such as Paracetamol or Diamox
  • Descend to lower altitudes until the symptoms recede

If all else fails and you can't manage to get to a lower altitude under your own steam the quick and easy solution might be to use horse transportation or, worse scenario if circumstances permit, then only use helicopter evacuation.

However, for more details, you may contact to our local expert now.

Rajesh Neupane

Rajesh Neupane

Rajesh, known as Raj, is the founder and owner of Nepal Trekking Experts, as well as the company's main guide. He was born and raised in the mountain region of Manaslu and has a deep and abiding connection with the culture and nature of the Himalayan mountains. With more than 20 years in the trekking industry, from working as a porter and guide right through to his present role as the head of the company, Raj has the knowledge base and wealth of experience to customize and organize treks that fulfill each and every requirement for a successful journey,  including permits, equipment, clothing, medical supplies, and safety, as well as a familiarity with the fitness levels and experience required for each of the treks on offer in our portfolio. Having traveled most of the trails available in Nepal he has a deep affinity and connection to the broad spectrum of people and their cultures, as well as a deep appreciation for the various religions, history, flora and fauna of the mountain regions and their scattered valleys. 

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