10/05/2018 Articles

How can I reduce the effects of altitude sickness

So how do you limit the effects of altitude sickness?

There are a few things that you can do to help you adjust to the altitude.

Number 1 is pace.

So when you're on a trek to Everest Base Camp you want to have the mindset that you need to slow down as much as you can. Ideally, you need to be at a pace where you can actually hold a conversation with someone else and not be out of breath.

As you get higher it does get difficult and there are times where you have to walk up some relatively steep paths. Especially on the trek leading up to Namche Bazaar or Tengboche or when you are on your acclimatisation hikes where it's good to test yourself. This is where we climb and actually hit a certain height and then hike back down where we sleep at a lower altitude.

The speed that you want to aim for is where you are able to walk and still be able to hold a conversation with your guide, your trekking partner, whoever you're with. The guides will keep a watchful eye on your pace and if you are going too quick they will say, "Look, slow down." Obviously, it's up to you control that yourself but a little guidance never hurts and sometimes think to yourself, "Right, I'm going too fast here" and slow down. Sometimes you will notice if you're going up too fast.

Number 2 is hydration.

This so important! If you're struggling with high altitude it's probably because you haven't had drunk water. Ideally, you want to be aiming for at least four/five liters a day. This seems like a lot, especially if you're not great at drinking water on a daily basis. but it seriously helps you and can be the difference between you getting to Everest Base Camp or not.

The more hydrated you are, the better your body will adjust. I Guarantee it.

You can get unlucky obviously and anything can happen. Anyone can get altitude sickness. However, it's these sort of things, a good pace and keeping hydrated that can really help you at high altitude.

Number 3 is looking after your body.

We don't recommend you drinking alcohol on the way up to Everest Base Camp which has a detrimental effect on Number 2. On the way down, go for it. You've done Everest Base Camp, you can have a celebration, it's always a good time to celebrate.

We normally save it for when we're actually back at Lukla or back at Kathmandu. But, it's up to yourself of course. Some people will take vitamin tablets and we find that something as simple as taking an aspirin once a day really helps with adjusting with altitude because it thins your blood a bit. It just takes that little pressure off. Your body goes through physiological changes at high altitude and one is that your blood does thicken. Yout body is dealing with an oxygen deprived environment so it adjusts and changes and that's one of the things it does. It thickens your blood. It produces more red blood cells. You'd be surprised, if you cut or scratch yourself, you won't actually bleed that much. But if you do take aspirin it kind of levels that out a little bit.

There's a couple of tips to help prevent altitude sickness. Just to remind you, pace, plenty of water, looking after yourself and just having a damn good time as well. Some people come on the trip and are thinking "Altitude sickness, altitude sickness, altitude sickness." And if you're thinking like that all of the time when you're out there and you worry about every little thing, then that does have an effect. You've got to try and stay in that positive mindset. Enjoying where you are and you'll forget an odd headache and you will have a much better time.

If things do become serious and our guides are well trained to notice that. One of the first things that will happen is you'll lose your appetite. You won't want to eat. So that'll be the first trigger. Then you will have a lack of sleep. You will start to feel physically sick. There are different levels of altitude sickness where you can also have extreme headaches that can potentially affect your vision and you will slur your words. We will manage you so that it won't get to that stage but it's always worth being mindful of how to look out for altitude sickness.


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