Acute Mountain Sickness or Altitude Sickness is a medical condition induced by decreased levels of oxygen as you move above the sea level.
Your body is used to breathing air saturated with a certain definite amount of oxygen. As you ascend up, the oxygen in the atmosphere decreases. Hence your body is put under a stress. And the poor thing has to adjust to the diminished oxygen availability.
Now, usually, this doesn’t cause any problems. No, let me rephrase it. This doesn’t cause any problem, provided you are careful enough, not to let it.
So here are little things that will help you not fall prey to AMS.
Remember, the do’s and don’ts in TRAWEL.
I know travel is spelled with a ‘v’! This is just a mnemonic to help you remember.
Tablets. This measure is more applicable if you know that you are susceptible to AMS. Consult a doctor who’ll prescribe you a prophylaxis medication for altitude sickness. Acetazolamide is the most commonly prescribed drug. Again do ask your doctor rather than Google or Wikipedia. He knows better. Also, carry painkillers to help you, should you develop any mild initial symptoms.
Rest. You gotta sleep like a baby, when on a trek. As you use up your energy vaults through the day, it becomes imperative to build them up again at night. Hiking all day long, the change in atmosphere, temperature everything just adds up to making you tired easily. So if you need to rise and shine next day, better get minimum 8 straight hours of sleep.
Acclimatize. The most effective and imperative measure that will help you keep mountain sickness at bay. You have to allow your body to get habituated to dwindled oxygen supply. The best way is to ascend slowly, at least for 1 or 2 days. For the first two days, if possible, don’t exert yourself at all. And if you do have to start your trek from the very first day, keep it a tortoise race.
Water. Another indispensable law of the mountains, keep yourself hydrated. You have to drink at least 4 -5 liters of water, by order. Hydration helps your body to acclimatize easily. Due to cold weather, you probably won’t feel thirsty that often. You, therefore, have to make conscious efforts, to keep sipping on water, as you make your way to the top.
Eat. I know you definitely won’t fast while on a trip. But the changing environment is bound to kill your appetite and you might want to skip a meal. Do not do that. Eat your 3 meals regularly and handsomely. Also, carry a fruit or light snack to keep you full while on the go. Food will keep your immunity impenetrable and shield you against AMS.
Liquor. NO. Nope. Nahi. Drinking alcohol is absolutely out of question. Alcohol causes the toxic triad effect aka hypothermia, dehydration, and AMS. It’s basically a single un-do button against all your efforts to prevent AMS. Let nature’s beauty intoxicate you. Leave the glasses and bottles for later, to help you tide over the end of your glorious trip.
Comment below if you have any questions on AMS.