Altitude sickness often known as acute mountain sickness
(A.M.S.) in general may occur when people ascend too
quickly normally in altitudes of over 3000 m. Most
people will feel some affect of altitude, shortness of
breath and possibly a light headed, which is fairly
common. Acute mountain sickness is very different and
normally involves a severe headache, sickness and loss
of awareness. In almost every potential case there are
enough warning signs to take appropriate action.
Our expert and trained guides will advise you about any
health requirements and also altitude sickness while you
are trekking, so you should not worry about it, we do
however recommend you get advice from you travel doctor
or health advisor before you leave. The following
information gives you an idea about high altitude
sickness and how to minimize the affects
There are three stages of altitude sickness and
1. Normal AMS Symptoms - Should expect but not worry
Following are the normal altitude symptoms that you
should expect but not be worried about. Every trekker
will experience some or all of these, no matter how
slowly they ascend.
Periods of sleeplessness.
Occasional loss of appetite.
The need to rest/catch your breath frequently while
trekking, especially above 3500 meters.
Increasing urination while moving to/at higher
altitudes (a good sign)
2. Mild AMS Symptoms: Don't go higher
Many trekkers in the high valleys of the Himalaya get
mild AMS, admit or acknowledge that you are having
symptoms. You need have only one of the following
symptoms to be getting altitude sickness.
Dry Raspy cough
Loss of appetite
Hard to breath
What to do if a mild symptom doesn't go way?
If mild symptoms developing while walking, stop, have
rest, drink plenty of water and take 125-250mg Diamox.
Diamox generally takes one to four hours to begin
If symptoms partially go away but are still annoying, it
is safe to take another 250mg Diamox 6-8 hours later.
If mild symptoms continue getting worse try descending
for a few hours which may be more beneficial than
staying at the same altitude. Going higher will
definitely make it worse.
3. Serious AMS Symptoms: Immediate descent
Persistent, severe headache.
Ataxia (loss of co-ordination, an inability to walk
in a straight line, making the sufferer look drunk)
Losing consciousness (inability to stay awake or
Mental confusion or hallucinations.
Liquid sounds in the lungs.
Very persistent, sometimes watery, cough.
Rapid breathing or feeling breathless at rest.
Coughing clear fluid, pink phlegm or blood (a very
Marked blueness of face and lips.
High resting heartbeat (over 130 beats per minute)
Mild symptoms rapidly getting worse.
Dangerous cases of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)
Dangerous Cases of AMS
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
This is a build-up of fluid around the brain. It In
most cases the first five symptoms on the mild and
severe lists previously. Coma from HACE can lead to
unconsciousness are death within 12 hours from the
onset of symptoms, but normally takes 1-2 days to
develop. At the first sign of ataxia begin treatment
with medication, oxygen and descent. Usually 4 to
8mg of dexamethasone is given as a first does, then
4mg every six hours, Diamox every 12 hours and 2-4
liters /minute oxygen. Descent is necessary but a
PAC (portable altitude chamber) bag will often be
used first if available.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
This is an accumulation of fluid in the lungs and is
very serious. It is responsible for all the other
mild and serious symptoms and it is often
accompanied by a mild fever. By far the treatment is
oxygen at 4 liters a minute but using PAC (portable
altitude chamber) bag treatment is a good
substitute. If there is no PAC bag or oxygen then
descent will be life saving. HAPE can lead to
unconsciousness are death very quick.
Tips of prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Allow sufficient time for acclimatization (After
Don't make rapid Ascent. Don't go too far too fast.
No Alcohol, Sleeping pills and Smoking.
Drink more fluid 3-4 Liters a day, clean
water-boiled or treated / tea / coffee / soup /
Climb high and sleep low.
Do not trek/travel alone, take guide/porter.
Follow the advice from your guide, hotel, local,
Descent if mild symptoms rapidly getting worse.
Never leave or descent sick person along.
Avoid getting cold.
Take an easy and comfortable trekking route even if
First Aid Kit
This is the basic list to cover the more common ailments
that affect trekkers. Climbing groups, expeditions and
trekkers going to isolated areas will need a more
Bandage for sprains
Iodine or water filter (optional)
Moleskin/Second skin - for blisters
Antiseptic ointment for cuts
Anti-bacterial throat lozenges (with antiseptic)
Aspirin/Paracetamol - general painkiller
Oral rehydration salts
Broad-spectrum antibiotic (norfloxacin or
Anti-diarrhea medication (antibiotic)
Diarrhea stopper (Imodium - optional)
Antibiotic for Guardia or similar microbe or
Diamox 250/500mg (for altitude sickness)
Sterile Syringe set (anti-AIDS precaution)
Gel hand cleaner.