Photo: diego cervo / www.123rf.com
The view from the mountaintop may be breathtaking, but don’t climb up too hastily – ascending to high altitudes (2,500m and above) without giving your body time to acclimatise may cause high altitude sickness.
This results from a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) and other stress like low humidity, cold temperatures and increased ultraviolet radiation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America (CDC). Symptoms are headaches, nausea, appetite loss, fatigue and vomiting. Avoid getting the condition with these tips from CDC.
BEFORE THE TRIP: PREP YOURSELF
Expose yourself to high altitudes of more than 2,750m for two nights within a month before your expedition. You could also consider taking acetazolamide – a mild diuretic that acidifies the blood to stimulate breathing – before and during your ascent. See a travel doctor for a prescription and dosage instructions.
DURING THE TRIP: SLOWLY DOES IT
Ascend gradually – and avoid climbing higher than 2,750m, especially if you’re starting at a low altitude. Take it easy for the first two days and avoid alcohol. Once you’re above 2,750m, move sleeping altitude (where you spend the night) no higher than 500m per day.
IF YOU’RE ALREADY FEELING SICK: GO BACK DOWN
If you feel worse resting at the same height, you must descend. Do not ascend to sleep at a higher altitude when experiencing symptoms of altitude illness, no matter how minor they seem.