How to reduce the effects of altitude sickness

Altitude sickness can be a concern for trekkers who venture to high altitudes. It's caused by the lack of oxygen at high altitudes and can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness, and other symptoms. To reduce the effects of altitude sickness, there are several things that you can do when trekking in high altitude.

1. Pace

When you're trekking at high altitudes, it's essential to manage your body in a way that enables it to adjust to the altitude. One of the most important things to do is to pace yourself. The slower you go, the easier it will be to breathe. It can be tough psychologically, especially if you're used to trekking at a faster pace, but it's crucial to slow down to allow your body to acclimatize to the high altitude. You should aim for a pace where you can hold a conversation without being out of breath. Guides will also keep a watchful eye on your pace and offer advice if you're going too quickly.
2. Hydration

Staying hydrated is crucial when trekking at high altitudes. If you're struggling with the high altitude, it's likely that you haven't drunk enough water. You should aim to drink at least four to five liters of water per day. While this may seem like a lot of water, it can be the difference between making it to Everest Base Camp or not. The more hydrated you are, the better your body will adjust to the high altitude. A great tip to make drinking water more palatable is to bring small squeezy bottles of squash with you for the trek. These add flavor and make staying hydrated that much easier!
Look after your body!

It's crucial to look after your body when trekking at high altitudes. Firstly, you should stay off the alcohol on the way up, as it has a significant detrimental effect on hydration. However, on the way down, you can celebrate your success with some drinks. If you're in Nepal you could have a celebratory drink in the worlds highest Irish pub in Namche Bazaar and toast your success! Or in Tanzania you could share some bubbly and beers with your guides following your successful summit of Kili.

Eating well is also key, and you should aim for five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Taking vitamin tablets to help your immune system can also be helpful. When trekking in Nepal, it's best to stay away from meat, as the refrigeration is not up to western standards, and it's easy to get sick while trekking. Taking aspirin once a day can help adjust to altitude as it thins your blood a bit, which is important because your body goes through physiological changes at high altitude, and one of these is that your blood thickens.
4. Diamox

Diamox is a medication that can be used to reduce the effects of altitude sickness. It's a contentious subject in the trekking and climbing industry, but it has been proven to work wonders at high altitudes. It can help trekkers who are struggling to adjust to high altitude, and it's available from most guides if necessary. It's important to consult with a GP or a local travel clinic like Nomad before taking Diamox.

Dealing with Altitude Sickness Anxiety & Support

If you come onto the trek are constantly worrying about altitude sickness it will likely have a negative effect on your trek. You've got to try and stay in a positive mindset. Prepare using the above tips and get on with enjoying where you are. You'll soon forget the odd headache and you will have a much better time. If things do become serious or you have any concerns our guides will look after you and give you the best advice. They are hugely experienced at high altitude and are well trained to notice the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness.

Although the team are there for you, it's always worth being mindful of a few things that will certainly help prevent any issues.

Written By

Andy Moore

Head Yeti & CEO