Acute Mountain or Altitude Sickness:
Every year, a number of travelers suffer high altitude or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). It can be very serious and even fatal because of the ignorance of its causes, symptoms and remedies.
It causes: The higher the altitude, the lower the atmospheric pressure. Gases become less dense and the availability of oxygen in the atmosphere diminishes. In order to face these changes, the human body has to adjust. If the ascension of the mountain is too fast for the body to adapt, the person may develop one or several symptoms of altitude sickness, the most serious and sometimes fatal being pulmonary or cerebral edema.
Its preventions: Trekking above 3,000 meters involves the risk of altitude sickness, especially if one has not taken the appropriate precautions. The best way to avoid such discomfort is to get acclimatized to the altitude. Sensible precautions include:
1)Climbing up progressively. From 2, 500 meters, it is advisable not to climb more than 500 meters a day.
2)From 3,500 meters, it is advisable to spend the night or two at each period;
3)Drink plenty of fluids. A minimum of three litter’s water a day is recommended above 3,000 meters to counteract dehydration. Avoid alcohol or sedatives.
Symptoms and remedies: even if you flow these rules it does not mean that you will not suffer from any of the symptoms. Each person has a different level of tolerance to altitude and there are no established rules. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to even the most miner symptoms which include headaches, dizziness, and loss of appetite, nausea, insomnia, shortness of breath, urine retention and edema.
The only remedy for severe symptoms is to climb down as soon as possible. You can take medicines such as Diamox, but with caution as it may simply mask the warning signs of (AMS). Trekkers who experience mild symptoms can try remaining one or two days at the same altitude, before resuming their ascent at a measured pace.
First aid Kit:
small pair of scissors, a pair of tweezers, safety pins, bandage, plasters, sterile, compresses (20 – 26 cm) disinfectant, aspirin, or paracetamol tablets, water purifying tablets.
Decongestion medicine, painkiller, anti-spasmodic, massage cream for contusions, Diamox (a mild diuretic which stimulates oxygen intake, used to treat mountain sickness), multi-purpose antibiotics.
For comfortable feet – plasters to protect against blisters, talcum powder (to spread into socks and shoes), antibiotic cream, sun lotion, lip balm, mosquito repellent, chewable vitamin C tablets, ear plugs, glucose bars for regaining energy.