What is mountain sickness?
Mountain sickness, also known as altitude sickness, is a condition that can occur when people ascend to high altitudes too quickly. The symptoms of mountain sickness are caused by the body’s inability to adjust to the low levels of oxygen that occur at high elevations. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping.
There are three types of mountain sickness: Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the most common form of mountain sickness and usually occurs when people ascend to elevations of 8,000 feet or higher. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms usually improve with rest, hydration, and medication, but in some cases, descending to a lower altitude may be necessary.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is a more severe form of mountain sickness and occurs when the brain swells due to lack of oxygen. Symptoms include confusion, difficulty walking, and loss of consciousness. This condition can be fatal if not treated promptly and requires immediate descent to a lower altitude.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is a life-threatening condition that occurs when fluid accumulates in the lungs due to lack of oxygen. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness. This condition requires immediate descent to a lower altitude and medical treatment.
It’s important to note that not everyone will develop mountain sickness, and some people may be more susceptible to it than others. To prevent mountain sickness, it’s recommended to acclimatize properly by ascending gradually, staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol, and sleeping at high altitudes if possible.
Major and minor symptoms of acute mountain sickness in Nepal
The major symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS) include:
In addition to these major symptoms, there are also some minor symptoms of AMS that can occur, including:
It’s important to note that not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, and some people may have more severe symptoms than others. If you are experiencing symptoms of AMS, it’s important to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid further ascent. If symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to descend to a lower altitude and seek medical attention.
How to prevent Acute mountain sickness(AMS)?
There are several measures that can be taken to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS) when trekking or climbing in high altitudes. Here are some of the most effective ways to prevent AMS:
In summary, preventing AMS requires a gradual ascent, altitude acclimatization, proper hydration, nutrition and rest, and being aware of any symptoms, monitoring them, and taking actions accordingly.
At what altitude in the mountain range of Nepal, is one likely to experience mountain sickness?
Mountain sickness, also known as altitude sickness, can occur at elevations of 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) or higher. However, the risk of developing symptoms increases as the altitude increases. People who ascend rapidly and do not give their bodies enough time to acclimatize are at a higher risk of developing mountain sickness.
It’s worth mentioning that the risk of getting mountain sickness is not only related to the altitude but also to the rate of ascent and individual susceptibility, some people may be more susceptible to altitude sickness than others.
In Nepal, many popular trekking routes reach elevations of 12,000-15,000 feet (3,658-4,572 meters) and above, and it’s important for trekkers to be aware of the symptoms of mountain sickness and to take precautions to prevent it. It’s recommended to ascend gradually, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol and sleeping at high altitudes if possible. If symptoms of mountain sickness appear, it’s important to rest, descend to a lower altitude, and seek medical attention if necessary.