Tips to avoid altitude sickness when travel to Tibet

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Dates 4 Apr '13 to 14 Apr '13

Flexible? Yeah, sure

Est. Cost 1,000 - 10,000 USD (USD United States Dollars)

Type Tour Participants Wanted

Name Tips to avoid altitude sickness when travel to Tibet

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PREVENTION
If you are driving up from Kathmandu, you will experience rapid altitude gain. An itinerary that takes you straight up to Everest Base Camp is unwise; plan to see it on your way back if possible. The best way to prevent AMS is to avoid rapid ascents to high altitudes. If you fly or bus into Lhasa, take it easy for at least three days; this is enough for most travellers to get over any initial ill-effects. At this point you might step up your programme by visiting a few sights around town. Within a week you should be ready for something a bit more adventurous, but do not push yourself to do anything that you are not comfortable with.

To prevent acute mountain sickness:

 Ascend slowly. Have frequent rest days, spending two to three nights at each rise of 1000m. If you reach a high altitude by trekking, acclimatisation takes place gradually and you are less likely to be affected than if you fly directly to high altitude.

 Trekkers should bear in mind the climber’s adage of ‘climb high, sleep low’. It is always wise to sleep at a lower altitude than the greatest height that’s reached during the day. High day climbs followed by a descent back to lower altitudes for the night are very good preparation for high-altitude trekking. Also, once above 3000m, care should be taken not to increase the sleeping altitude by more than 400m per day. If the terrain won’t allow for less than 400m of elevation gain, be ready to take an extra day off before tackling the climb.

 Drink extra fluids. Tibet’s mountain air is cold and dry, and moisture is lost as you breathe. Evaporation of sweat may occur unnoticed and result in dehydration.

 Eat light, high-carbohydrate meals to keep up energy.

 Avoid alcohol as it may increase the risk of dehydration, and don’t smoke.

 Avoid sedatives.

 When trekking, take a day off to rest and acclimatise if feeling overtired. If you or anyone else in your party is having a tough time, make allowances for unscheduled stops.

 Don’t push yourself when climbing up to passes; rather, take plenty of breaks. You can usually get over the pass as easily tomorrow as you can today. Try to plan your itinerary so that long ascents can be divided into two or more days. Given the complexity and unknown variables involved with AMS and acclimatisation, trekkers should always err on the side of caution and ascend mountains slowly.

TREATMENT
Treat mild symptoms by resting at the same altitude until recovery, usually a day or two. Take paracetamol or acetaminophen for headaches. If symptoms persist or become worse, however, immediate descent is necessary. Even 500m can help.

The most effective treatment for severe AMS is to get down to a lower altitude as quickly as possible. In less severe cases the victim will be able to stagger down with some support; in other cases they may need to be carried down. Whatever the case, any delay could be fatal.

AMS victims may need to be flown out of Tibet as quickly as possible, so make sure you have adequate travel insurance.

The drug acetazolamide (Diamox) is recommended for the prevention of AMS - take 125mg twice a day as a preventive dose. Be aware that even when you are on Diamox, you should not ignore any symptoms of AMS.

However, the use Diamox is controversial. It can reduce the symptoms, but may also mask warning signs; severe and fatal AMS has occurred in people taking this drug. Travellers should discuss the use of Diamox with a travel health expert. Diamox should be avoided in those with a sulphur allergy, but you can discuss taking a trial of the medication at home if necessary.

Drug treatments should never be used to avoid descent or to enable further ascent (although they can help get people well enough to descend).

Several hotels in Lhasa sell a Tibetan herbal medicine recommended by locals for easing the symptoms of mild altitude sickness. The medicine is known as solomano in Tibetan and hongjingtian in Chinese, though locals also recommend gaoyuanning and gaoyuankang. A
box of vials costs around Y20 to Y35; take three vials a day.

Tips to avoid altitude sickness when travel to Tibet

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Tips to avoid altitude sickness when travel to Tibet

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