Altitude Wellness

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High Altitude Health Check List

  • Drink plenty of water (3 to 4 quarts a day)
  • Moderate Your Physical Activity. Don’t overexert in the first 24 hours
  • Eat a high-carbohydrate, low fat meals and plenty of green, leafy vegetables
  • Do avoid tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and salt
  • Do avoid sleeping pills and narcotics
  • Take time to acclimate to the altitude

The diagnosis of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is made when a headache, with any one or more of the following symptoms is present after a recent ascent above 2500 meters (8000 feet):

  • Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  • Fatigue or weaknes
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Feeling symptoms? Seek Local Help!

A good fluid intake should always be maintained, you can never take in too much liquid. A minimum of 3 liters a day is recommended, although up to 5 liters is better. Dehydration occurs when there is an excessive loss of water from the body. It can be due to several factors which include taking in of alcoholic beverages, too much sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is a potentially dangerous but generally preventable condition. Recognizing its symptoms and knowing how to prevent them are key to preventing the condition from becoming worse.

Feeling thirsty is already a sign that you are dehydrated. It is advised that you keep drinking water and fluids especially when engaging in physically demanding activities so that you can replenish the water loss due to sweating. A dark urine is an indication that you are dehydrated and therefore, need to drink fluids until your urine clears up.

If fluid loss is severe, use an oral rehydrating solution with electrolytes such as Gatorade. If you are not in the state to keep down any fluids then you should not be hiking or climbing at all. The first obvious symptoms of dehydration are weakness, thirst, and passing small amount of very concentrated urine. The person will also have a decreased blood pressure and dizziness. In extreme cases, this may progress to drowsiness, inability to stand upright without fainting, and finally, coma. Please educate family and friends around you, so we all can understand altitude sickness, dehydration symptoms and know how to prevent it. Always return to a lower elevation to reduce symptoms. Your health at high elevation is your primary responsibility.

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At altitudes above 8000 ft (2500 meters) the partial pressure of oxygen drops, and there is a substantially lower amount of oxygen available for the individual to inhale. This is known as hypoxia. Since there is less oxygen to inhale, less oxygen reaches the blood. This is known as hypoxemia. These two conditions are the major factors that form the basis for all the medical problems associated with altitude sickness. Alleviating the effects of the hypoxia at higher altitudes is known as acclimatization, and it occurs during the first few days. Take time to acclimate to the altitude.

There are three major clinical syndromes that fall under the heading of altitude sickness: acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE). These syndromes are not separate, individual syndromes as much as they are a continuum of severity, all resulting from a decrease in oxygen in the air. AMS is the mildest, and the other two represent severe, life-threatening forms of altitude sickness.