Most of the people who go to high altitude (At the height of 8,000 feet above the sea level or higher) have reported that they feel sick, light headed, dizzy and uneasy. This condition is termed as altitude sickness or mountain sickness.
What Is Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is bodily stress that is caused by traveling to a higher elevation than the body is accustomed. It is a big concern for those who enjoy or are passionate about mountain climbing, hiking, trekking or loves traveling.
What Causes Altitude Sickness
The reason behind mountain sickness is that at higher altitudes the air is thinner and the amount of oxygen is less. Also at a higher elevation, there is a change in pressure, the environment is freezing, humidity is low, and there is increased ultraviolet radiation. All these factors make your body to work hard to carry enough oxygen to the brain, and you feel nauseated, weak, and have trouble in breathing.
Altitude sickness is uncomfortable, but in some rare cases, it can be potentially life-threatening. This is why it is essential to have complete knowledge regarding symptoms and management of high altitude sickness before you plan to travel to higher elevations.
Altitude sickness is primarily of 3 types:
- Acute mountain sickness (AMS)– It is the most common form of mountain sickness that affects more than 25 percent of people traveling to an altitude above 9,800 feet and 53 percent of people moving to an altitude above 13,800 feet. It is not a dangerous condition but may worsen.
- High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)- It is a progression of AMS. It is a rare but severe condition where the brain swells due to the accumulation of the fluid, and the standard cognitive functions of the patient disrupted. Swelling happens quickly and may damage the brain. It is an emergency situation that requires immediate descend to the lower ground, immediate hospitalization and treatment within 24 hours.
- High Altitude Pulmonary Edema- It is also rare but may happen. Here the lungs are swollen and filled with fluid. Due to the pressure and constriction, the respiratory functions are disrupted. This condition requires immediate oxygen treatment, descend to lower ground and immediate hospitalization.
What Are The Symptoms Of Altitude Sickness
The symptoms of high altitude sickness tend to begin within 2-12 hours after the arrival at a high elevation. Most of the people experience mild to moderate symptoms. With time your body acclimates to the new location and these symptoms disappear. However, it is impossible to get adapted at altitudes above 17000 and require oxygen bottles to survive.
The typical symptoms of altitude sickness include:
- A headache
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep disturbance
- Shortness of breath
- Easily exerted
- Loss of coordination or disorientation
- Patient with HACE suffers from confusion, poor concentration, drowsiness, difficulty in balance and walking. Also, some may experience hallucinations and memory loss.
- Patients with HAPE experiences trouble in breathing, tightness in chest, coughing and wheezing. Also, there may be irritability and confusion along with suffocation.
Prevention steps and specific home remedies to deal with altitude sickness are discussed below.
Top Altitude Sickness Home Remedies
Garlic thins the blood and enhances blood circulation. It helps the body to use oxygen efficiently and reduces breathlessness. It also reduces nausea and dizziness. Take about 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peel and munch them.
One of the best home remedies for altitude sickness if ginger. Chewing ginger combats nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Peel and chew a piece of ginger. Alternatively, extract the juice of ginger. Mix a teaspoon of ginger juice in a glass of water and consume when you feel nauseous or dizzy.
Gingko Bilbo to treat altitude sickness
Gingko bilbo helps the brain to tolerate low oxygen level and also regulates the body oxygen level. It keeps you steady at high altitudes and promotes blood circulation throughout the body.
Take 150 grams of dried ginkgo bilbo leaves and add them to 500 ml of vodka in a glass jar. Keep the jar in the dark and clean place, for a month. Make sure to periodically shake the jar. After a month strain the concoction and store it in a separate airtight bottle. When you feel sick, take a teaspoon of this blend.
Alternatively steep a handful of gingko leaves in a glass of water for 15 minutes. Strain the concoction and then drink it when you experience the symptoms of altitude sickness to feel better.
Lemon juice eliminates a cough, nausea, and headache. Being rich in vitamin C it boosts body immunity. In a glass of water add one teaspoon honey and a tablespoon lemon juice. Stir the ingredients and drink this concoction instantly the moment you start facing the symptoms.
Peppermint is known to decrease uneasiness and prevent nausea and vomiting. Also, it eases pain and headache. Whenever you feel uneasy or nauseated, smell peppermint oil. If you have a headache, apply 1-2 drop of peppermint oil on your forehead for instant relief.
Cocca leaves are found effecting in getting rid of acute mountain They are rich in antioxidants, and vitamin C. Simply chew the leaves to prevent the symptoms.
How To Prevent High Altitude Sickness
To avoid altitude sickness, you should take following steps:
- In the case, you are hiking up a mountain better start from a point 10,000 feet below and walking up.
- Increase your altitude only by 10,000 feet in a day and take rest days along your way.
- If you drive or fly to a higher place, do not over-exert yourself for the first the 24 hours.
- Avoid foods high in sodium. Also, avoid processed foods, Take vitamin B6 and multivitamins before you climb.
- Stay hydrated.
- Before you go to higher altitude, prepare your body by stretching, and brisk walking.
- Avoid exercising at altitudes
- Better sleep at a lower height (below 10,000).
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and caffeine.
- Wherever you feel uneasiness, stop and take rest.
With altitude sickness remedies in your backpack and prevention measures in your mind now you are all ready to combat altitude sickness. Happy journey.