How Do You Prevent Altitude Sickness at Everest Base Camp?
High in the Himalayas is relishing but with pleasure comes pain they say. While trekking to the base camp of the world’s highest peak, altitude sickness is inevitable if you don’t follow proper measures. It won’t matter if you are a novice or an experienced trekker, if you are not prepared, altitude sickness can injure you seriously.
Altitude sickness can be fatal and a lot of people have been caught in this sickness and are forced to return to the settlement without reaching their destination. Altitude sickness can even result in death so prevention is not a thing to toy with.
But there are measures to be safe from altitude sickness and reach your destination to the Everest Base Camp without getting caught by this fatal medical condition.
There are several devastating news about trekkers suffering from altitude sickness and some of the incidents lead to death as well. So there have always been queries about how to prevent yourself from altitude sickness at Everest Base Camp. first and foremost, one should realize that as much tranquil the mountains look, they are equally dangerous as well.
Altitude sickness is a medical condition at higher elevation caused mainly because of failing to adapt to the adverse conditions at higher altitudes. Altitude sickness is also known as Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS) which can range from having mild symptoms to being fatal. When the elevation gets above 2400 meters, there are chances one can get caught into Acute Mountain Sickness. At this range, the oxygen is 60% less than that at sea level.
Going higher towards the mountains, the environment changes and the low oxygen level makes trekking more challenging. The symptoms of altitude sickness are a weakness, dizziness, giddiness, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, and shortness of breath. If these symptoms are left uncared, this can further lead to death as well.
The major reason for altitude sickness is the lack of knowledge about trekking or carelessness for most of the time. Trekkers sometimes overestimate their ability and go for the trek without proper guidance. And at the higher elevation, proper medical assistance lacks as well. So without proper guidance and medical assistance, altitude sickness can be a major hindrance in your trek to Everest Base Camp. Altitude sickness can happen to people of any age, gender, physical and mental conditions.
It is not always the case that altitude sickness starts at 2400 meters. It depends upon the tolerance. So if you are an experienced trekker, you might be caught by altitude sickness at a rather higher elevation than novice trekkers. The weaker ones who exercise less and are not frequent walkers are likely to get caught by the sickness more easily.
Having a better physique means you are less prone to suffering from altitude sickness than the one who has health problems. Some trekkers feel the symptoms right after they start the trek while others can be the victim in a while. These symptoms last depending upon the tolerance of the trekkers.
Here are some symptoms of altitude sickness:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Excessive flatulence
The above-mentioned symptoms are seen in the initial phase of altitude sickness. When these conditions get worse, the sickness gets fatal and needs immediate medical attention. Following are the symptoms when the condition gets worse
- Lack of coordination
- Heart palpitations
- Coughing with bloody sputum
- Irrational behavior and depression
When these symptoms are seen, medical attention should be sought after immediately. The rescue team should bring a helicopter if needed. Trekkers are advised not to continue their trekking when the initial symptoms are seen. Acclimatization is a must.
There are several types of pf altitude sickness. Some of them are as follows:
AMS (Acute Motion Sickness): In this condition, one part of your balance sensing system senses that you are moving but the other parts are not. To cure this type of sickness, one should descend to a certain height as soon as possible.
HAPE(High Altitude Pulmonary Edema): HAPE is when your lungs are filled with fluid. This will cause problems when you try to breathe as dehydration causes releasing water from the lungs and gets filled with fluid instead. So in order to cure this, you should descend as soon as possible and rest there. Getting emergency medical attention and care is a must.
HACE(High Altitude Cerebral Edema): In this condition, your brain gets a lower level of oxygen and the blood gets accumulated in the brain. The first symptom of HACE is the lack of coordination. If this sickness is not treated properly, the person can go to coma as well and even lose their lives. Descending immediately and seeking medical attention is advised as soon as possible. This is a severe level of altitude sickness.
There are several ways to prevent altitude sickness while trekking to Everest Base Camp. Some of them are listed below.
This is the first and foremost thing to do when you are to prevent yourself from altitude sickness. This is because your body can not adapt to the level of oxygen immediately. So ascending slowly, you are giving your body time to adapt to the low oxygen level. Rushing to the destination might leave you in a limbo between reaching destination or getting caught by the altitude sickness. So too much hurried walking increases your breath and this might lead to being fatigued and lead to altitude sickness.
2.Proper rest and acclimatization:
While trekking to a higher elevation, proper acclimatization days should be allocated in the itinerary. While doing the acclimatization rest, you should come back to a lower place as soon as possible after hiking to a higher elevation. While trekking to Everest Base Camp, two days should be allocated for acclimatization.
The first should be at Namche Bazar (3400 meters) where trekkers can enjoy the ambiance of this beautiful city in the lap of the Himalayas. While staying at Namche, you can hike to Everest View Hotel (3880 m) and hike back to Namche Bazar for overnight sleep.
During the acclimatization day, the main motive is to climb higher and come to rest at a lower elevation. The next acclimatization will be at Dingboche (4400 m). During this acclimatization rest, trekkers can reach up to Nagarshan Hilltop and climb back to Dingboche.
3. Alcohol, cigarettes, and tobacco should be prohibited strictly:
While climbing the higher altitude, the air becomes thin. In Everest Base Camp, the vegetations get scarce as well. Walking up and down the trails requires immense physical fitness. So consuming alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and tobacco will decrease the water level in the body.
Up in the Himalayas when dehydration is a case that can readily happen, consuming these products can turn out to be a very dangerous one. Consuming tobacco makes your heart-beat slow as well. Alcohol, on the other hand, makes you dehydrated. Consuming these makes you lethargic.
So it is strongly advised not to consume these while ascending. You can consume them while climbing down as your body has already adapted to the altitude.
4.Drink plenty of water:
Dehydration is one major cause of altitude sickness and water is the best remedy. Prefer warm water instead of chilled water during the trek. This will keep you warm as well. Hydrating your body with 500 ml of water every half an hour of trekking is advised.
5. Eat plenty and well:
Loss of appetite is a common problem while trekking in higher altitude and trekkers end up eating very less. This can be dangerous so eat apt food. In case of loss of appetite, prefer liquid food. Having good food decreases the chance of getting altitude sickness.
6. Mentally prepare yourself:
People are caught in the psychological fear that they might get altitude sickness. This psychology triggers the chance of getting altitude sickness. Therefore, confidence is what you must have you first and foremost before vying for Everest Base Camp. Avoid negative thoughts and enjoy the scenery around.
7. Do your research:
Gather as much as information about your destination before commencing the trek. The tips and tricks while climbing higher altitudes can come handy to avoid altitude sickness. While trekking to Everest Base Camp, you have to keep in mind that you are trekking as high as 5550 meters above sea level.
8. Seeking medication attention before commencing the trek:
There are medicines that can be consumed before trekking to the higher elevation. So seeking out for doctor’s advice for medicines can help you avoid altitude sickness. Also going for some short treks before beginning your trek towards the Everest Base Camp can help to prevent altitude sickness as well. One can give you an important piece of information about altitude sickness and measures to prevent yourself from altitude sickness. Medicines like Diamox (Acetazolamide) can prevent altitude sickness to some extent. But make sure you visit a doctor before taking medications.