How to Avoid Altitude Sickness

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Avoid Altitude Sickness
Avoid Altitude Sickness

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness. The best way to treat altitude sickness is to avoid its onset in the first place. In addition to managing your mountain climb smartly, you can also take dietary measures and use medications to avoid the onset of altitude sickness.

Things You'll Need

  • Physician
  • Water
  • Ibuprofen

Pack plenty of ibuprofen. Of the available over-the-counter analgesics, it is the most effective to treat the head and body aches brought on at high altitudes. Speak to your physician about other prescription medications (nifedipine, frusemide and acetazolamide) that can combat the onset and symptoms of altitude sickness.

Avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco and sedatives. All 3 affect either respiration or hydration, which are bodily functions that must be optimally maintained at high altitudes.

Stay hydrated. Increase your daily intake of water from the usual 2 to 3 liters to between 4 and 6 liters (in other words, double it). Eat a high-calorie diet loaded in carbohydrates, which will give your body necessary stores of energy that also help the flow of oxygen through your bloodstream. Limit your intake of fat and sodium.

Ascend slowly. This is absolutely critical. Experts recommend climbing no more than 1,000 feet per day at altitudes above 8,000 feet. You must give yourself adequate time to acclimatize to each new altitude before attempting to move higher, and don't over-exert yourself physically when you reach a new altitude. Avoid climbing any further if any of the symptoms of altitude sickness affect you. Don't trek onwards and upwards until all symptoms have disappeared completely.

Climb high but sleep low. For every 3 days spent climbing, you should spend at least 2 nights at the same lower altitude. Sleep at least 500 feet lower than the highest altitude you were acclimatized to during the day. Insomnia can accompany the decreased supply of oxygen experienced at high altitudes, which makes it a wiser choice to sleep at a lower altitude to which your body is already acclimatized.

Tips & Warnings

  • Altitude sickness generally only begins to affect people who have reached an altitude in excess of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters).
  • There are prescription drugs commonly used to fight the symptoms of altitude sickness. First, nifedipine (marketed under the brand names Adalat, Nifedical and Procardia), and second, frusemide (branded as Laxis), should never be taken without having first received clearance from a doctor. They can cause severe complications in certain individuals and may even exacerbate certain symptoms of altitude sickness.

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