NATURALLY NEPAL "once is not enough"

Monday, April 2, 2012

On 12:07 PM by madan prasain in , , ,    No comments

Altitude Sickness
Altitude is defined on the following scale High (8,000 - 12,000 feet [2,438 - 3,658 meters]), Very High (12,000 - 18,000 feet [3,658 - 5,487 meters]), and Extremely High (18,000+ feet [5,500+ meters]). Since few people have been to such altitudes, it is hard to know who may be affected. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness.
Some people get it and some people don't, and some people are more susceptible than others. Most people can go up to 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) with minimal effect. If you haven't been to high altitude before, it's important to be cautious. If you have been at that altitude before with no problem, you can probably return to that altitude without problems as long as you are properly acclimatized.

AMS is common at high altitudes. At elevations over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), 75% of people will have mild symptoms. The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. Symptoms usually start 12-24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity about the third day. The symptoms of Mild AMS are headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, disturbed sleep, and a general feeling of malaise.

Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within 2-4 days as the body acclimatizes. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip. AMS is considered to be a neurological problem caused by changes in the central nervous system. It is basically a mild form of High Altitude Cerebral Edema.

Golden Rules:

If you feel unwell at Altitude, it is Altitude Sickness until proven otherwise.

Never ascend with symptoms of AMS

If you are getting worse or have (HACE or HAPE), go down at once!!!

Things You Must Know:
  1. Acclimatization
  2. Prevention
  3. Basic Treatment
  4. Severe AMS
  5. Medicines

Acclimatization. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness.
  • Causes. The major cause of altitude illnesses is going too high too fast.
  • Prevention. "Climb High and sleep low." This is the maxim used by climbers.
  • Prevention. Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills.
  • Diamox allows you to breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen, thereby minimizing the symptoms caused by poor oxygenation.
  • Dexamethasone (a steroid) is a prescription drug that decreases brain and other swelling reversing the effects of AMS.
  • Basic Treatment. The only cure is either acclimatization or descent. Symptoms of Mild AMS can be treated with pain medications for headache and Diamox. Both help to reduce the severity of the symptoms, but remember, reducing the symptoms is not curing the problem.
  • Moderate AMS. Moderate AMS includes severe headache that is not relieved by medication, nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue, shortness of breath, and decreased coordination (ataxia).  At this stage, only advanced medications or descent can reverse the problem.
  • Severe AMS. Severe AMS requires immediate descent to lower altitudes (2,000 - 4,000 feet [610-1,220 meters]).
  • HAPE. Anyone suffering from HAPE must be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.
  • HACE. Severe instances can lead to death if not treated quickly. Immediate descent is a necessary life-saving measure




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