What should I do once at altitude to minimize symptoms?
The best is to make a climb in several stages, of two or three days for example, sleeping at altitudes below 3’000m.
But often for reasons of time, a trip includes air connections, which means that you arrive directly at altitude. In this case, once you arrive at the hotel, the best thing to do is to rest, do not move around too much, do not make sudden and unnecessary efforts (avoid carrying suitcases for example), do not run under any circumstances, even if you feel able to, at least after four or five days after staying at altitude.
It is also not recommended to eat too much during the first three days and if you plan to trek, you should stay at least a few days at altitude, quietly, before setting off.
Also, alcohol is clearly not recommended for the first few days.
If necessary, good hotels always have an oxygen tank at the guests’ disposal. If the discomfort persists, a doctor should be consulted.
Climbers who continue to climb despite the onset of these symptoms are at risk of brain or lung complications, which can be life-threatening.
- Cerebral edema: It is manifested by severe and persistent headaches (beyond the first three or so days that are part of the normal cycle of the first symptoms), disturbance of balance, vomiting, increasing apathy, inconsistency, even loss of consciousness and death.
- High altitude pulmonary oedema: The first manifestations are dry cough and decreased physical performance. It is essential to diagnose it without delay.
Paradoxically, Acute Mountain Malaise (AMM) strikes young climbers or hikers more frequently… older people, who are probably more aware of their limits, are less exposed to unthinking physical effort.
At this time, there is no screening to detect a person’s propensity for MAM. However, someone who has already developed AMM or pulmonary edema is more likely to have a recurrence. It should be added, however, that these extreme cases are relatively rare.
It is therefore not a matter of alarm but only of prevention. Travelling with Pasión Andina, you will always have a competent team to help you make the right decisions.
P.S.: It is not recommended to take sleeping pills during a stay at altitude. There are treatments such as Diamox (which is a diuretic and gives good results as a treatment for altitude sickness). However, you should always consult a doctor, as you may experience some unpleasant side effects.