Altitude sickness is a debilitation illness that occurs at higher elevations. It frequently happens with travelers from low altitudes who climb a mountain. It may be that you choose to visit a friend in the Rocky Mountains or you want to climb Mount Everest.
Now, many do not know why this altitude sickness occurs; the reason is, our bodies are not accustomed to the rapid changes that take place.
How to Prevent Altitude Sickness When Hiking, Camping, and Traveling
Here are some tips to prevent altitude sickness whether you are traveling or you are on a hiking or camping trip.
1. Types and Symptoms of Sickness
The higher we go the barometric pressure starts dropping. With the drop in pressure comes less oxygen for you to breathe. Both of these combined create hardships on your body that rely on oxygen. Additionally, we need barometric pressure to keep us regulated.
Symptoms of altitude sickness include lack of appetite, headache, insomnia, fatigue, and vomiting. You may also experience dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Anywhere between 5000 feet to 11000 feet is considered high altitude. This is where you start to see a decrease in exercise tolerance and increase ventilation at rest.
Altitude illness can start occurring commonly from above 8500 feet; especially if there is a rapid ascent.
Very high altitude is considered up-to 8000 feet; this is where you feel a decrease in oxygen saturation routinely below 90%. Above 8000 is the extremely high altitude. Now let us talk about the types of altitude sicknesses.
2. Acute Mountain Sickness While Hiking
Acute mountain sickness and high-altitude cerebral edema, these are on the same spectrum; where high altitude cerebral edema is much severe. Acute mountain sickness is caused by the lack of oxygen at high altitudes, although the exact mechanism is unknown.
The symptoms of this sickness are called hangover which includes: headache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting.
You do not need to climb Mount Everest to experience this sickness; people might start developing these symptoms at elevations of just 8200 feet.
3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema Caused in Trekking and Camping
This is where the hypoxia is significant enough that you have an increase in cerebral blood volume which eventually leads to cerebral edema.
If we count acute mountain sickness as a kind of hangover symptoms, haze is when the patient still seems drunk. In trekking and camping in the higher areas of the mountain can cause this kind of sickness.
Preventing altitude sickness of these kinds can be different from the other sicknesses. You first need to see the symptoms that differ from any other sickness.
Therefore, the bigger symptoms here to look for is that they are confused or altered, possibly have toxic movements and which can be life-threatening. The treatment for this just sends the patient to the hospital; you can also try giving them steroids and make sure to give them oxygen.
4. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema
This is also called HAPE. This one is pretty similar to haste which happens in the lungs. The hypoxia causes increased pulmonary artery pressure which leads to capillary congestion and then pulmonary edema.
These patients are going to have a decreased exercise tolerance, very short of breath, they can become too Kipnuk Tachycardic, also can have a cough. The treatment is to descend the patient immediately and do not forget to give them oxygen.
There are some pre-journey steps which can help you preventing altitude sickness:
Take anti-inflammatory drugs: before leaving for the trip take a 300 to 400 mg of a good anti-inflammatory drug; you should also carry this medicine with you and can take another pill in the evening or after 12 hours of the 1st pill.
5. Preventing Dehydration During the Trek or Hike
keeping your body hydrated is a must thing to do. For this, start drinking 2 liters of water a day; start this process 7 days before leaving for your trip. This way you will be able to acclimatize your body to a higher altitude.
6. Caffeinate Problems Can Cause Altitude Sickness
If you have a habit of taking caffeine on a regular basis; then you will have to start changing it; as coffee withdrawal at high altitude is very risky.
If your caffeine intake level is high then start this process a month before you start your journey.
7. Prioritize Your Sickness to Prevent Altitude Sickness
If you are suffering from a little cough or cold in hiking in winter, then do not ignore it, as it can create a big issue while elevating. It is very important for you to be completely healthy as you will be doing a lot of physical work that too in high altitudes.
Do not hesitate to change your starting date if you have a little bit of sickness; remember with elevation your sickness will also elevate which can be life-threatening.
8. Take Munches to Prevent Sickness While Hiking
While elevating it is very important to eat food frequently; bring fibrous food so that it stays in your stomach.
You might also want to bring some chocolates, biscuits and protein bars as snacks. Do not bring very spicy food as it can be problematic for digestion.
Now let us discuss some tips which we can utilize in case of preventing altitude sickness during the trip:
9. Water Intake Can Keep You Hydrated
As I already mentioned, it is very important to be hydrated. Dehydration can be a reason for a lot of sicknesses. As you will be at altitude, far from your usual place, try to take at least three to four liters of water every day.
The higher you go the lower the moister becomes in the air; therefore, your body becomes dryer quicker than usual days.
To understand your body hydration level check on your urine color; if it is clear then you are hydrated and if your urine stinks and is yellow in color then you need to start drinking plenty of water.
10. Avoid Alcohol to Prevent Dehydration on Mountains
Alcohol normally dehydrates your body. Therefore, it is very obvious that you need to avoid these. But sometimes it can get too cold and you need to take alcohol.
If it is too cold and you are unable to handle it; then take one or two beers but only after coming back to your campsite or your sleeping area.
Also, you can take proper clothes like jackets, head wear and precautions for cold feet to avoid drinking alcohol.
11. Make a Better Food Choice and Quantity
Carbohydrate is a good thing for altitude sickness prevention and can be a life savior for you. High carb diets can help you fight the mountain sicknesses and also you will be full for a longer time. Also, it can help you stay in a good mood.
Your blood sugar level will also be in the right place because of the starch from the carbohydrate. Therefore heat up your body for high altitudes with foods contain high carbohydrate.
12. Altitude Sickness Pretension Medication Tips
Do not take unnecessary medicines. You need to put all your essential medicines somewhere close to you.
So, that you can reach them when needed. There is no must-have routine medicine as a precaution. For altitude sickness prevention and treatment, you can have proper pills and anti-steroid items.
But you can have anti-steroid pills 2 times a day, it can help you fight with the altitude sicknesses. Also remember do not take the pills after you start facing the symptoms, if you do that then you will not be benefited.
Take steroids for extreme sickness and also take anti-steroid medicines to treat your altitude sicknesses. Also, do not pick any medicine, go to a doctor or consult with specialized people before choosing your medicine.
Some Basics for Medications
Do not take medicines and first aid kits which have side effects like excess urination or causing dry skin or feet and palm. There are a lot of options for each medicine; therefore choose wisely.
Keep oxygen with you so that you can treat your illness faster. While entering high altitude, make sure you have steroids for an emergency.
13. Cover Up Your Body for Avoiding Sickness in Cold
Wear proper clothes for hiking in cold according to the weather. If it is sunny then wear a hat, use sunblock for protecting yourself from sun and heat.
Also, when snowing wear heavy clothes so that you do not catch a cold. Also while elevations always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from both sun and snow.
14. Rest Properly and in Proper Time for Avoiding Sickness
While climbing elevations keep in mind that you need rest for your body. Do not take rest after overstressing yourself. This will lead to altitude sickness. When you will be in altitudes you will face sleep deprivation.
So, you will want to sleep but will not be able to do it. It is a common phenomenon out there. Do not think it is happening only with you, 99% of people face the same issue while in high altitudes.
Therefore, try to make a routine for sleeping; while climbing choose a point and take rest, carry your lightweight sleeping bag with you, which can keep you warm. After an hour or so start your elevation again.
Also, one thing you should do is buy a good quality sleeping bag as this can help you a lot with sleep.
15. Movement Speed for Proper Trekking
You should always take your time climbing elevations so that your body can adjust. It is very obvious that your body will not be familiar with this new environment.
Also, it needs around four to six days to adjust in a particular altitude, though it can vary from person to person. It is like if you shift to Canada from Saudi Arabia then you will need time to adjust. It will also help you to prevent chafing on hiking.
As Saudi Arabia is a dessert and Canada is a place of snow. Alone with this, we all need time to adjust to a new place, just like that we need time here as well.
16. Climb High, Sleep Slow for Preventing Troubles and Sickness
In order to give your body a chance to adapt and acclimatize the general approach is to climb high and sleep low.
For example, people climbing Aconcagua or Everest will set out from base camp and carry a load to camp 1, drop their gear and come back to base camp and sleep. The next step would be to move to camp 1 and repeat up to camp 2.
17. Few More Tips for Preventing Altitude Sickness
These are the tips and essentials you need to take care of. If you still face symptoms severe than mentioned ones and which are lasting more than 24 hours, you need a doctor. A doctor can prescribe you medicines to make you more comfortable.
You should also find the right trail on trekking and hiking on the mountain. Use proper items that indicate safer route for avoiding sickness and other dangers.
Also, keep in mind that the way atmosphere filters sun rays at sea level, it does not do the same at altitudes. Therefore, the light intensity increases with height and this means the intensity of sunburn get higher and quicker as well.
For that, you need to be very careful about using sunscreen; use a good amount of sunscreen on your face, lips and on any other exposed skin. Also, on higher altitudes sun reflects on ice which can make you blind as well.
Therefore, sunscreen and sunglasses are two must things to wear while climbing elevations. Keep all these in your mind and prepare yourself to experience the adventurous journey for life.