Aug 2, 2013

How to Deal with Altitude Sickness

I won't say I am the expert on this but having been to 3 places with high altitude, I would say I am quite exposed to the experience of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is usually associated with effect of high altitude on the human bodies. It usually hits when you are above 2,400 metres above sea level. Out of the 3 experience I had with high altitude, 2 of which I suffered from minor altitude sickness, one in Peru and another time in Tibet. Funny thing is I was not hit with the symptom when I first arrived at the high altitude in Arequipa, Peru, and when I arrived in Lhasa via flight from Kathmandu. It was only after a few days when I was ascending to the higher parts of Peru and Tibet, that I experience the symptom and it disappeared as fast as it came, within a few hours.

The usual symptoms of altitude sickness are headaches, shortness of breath, dizzinesses, nausea, insomnia and fatigue. The only symptom I had was headaches and quite bad according to my headaches dictionary.  One of my friend suffered from insomnia while in Lhasa.

So, how do I usually cope with these symptoms? I sleep and by I mean really a lot. The whole journey from Nazca Line to Arequipa, I was sleeping. Only woke up when the bus stopped for toilet break, lunck break and photo break. Other than that, Adri and me slept the whole journey up, thus earning us the nickname, sleeping queen!

I also drank lots of water as it is vital to keep hydrated to ensure that our blood is not too thick and able to carry more oxygen and hemoglobin, at least that is my theory. 

But the most important rule is to get enough rest and acclimatized to the high altitude. Do not run, or walk furiously during the first few days in the high altitude. There are medicine to be taken if you want to avoid the sickness but I would not recommend it as it is better to have your body acclimatized themselves. Oh, in Peru, they will usually chew on colca leaves or drink lots of colca tea. Not sure whether it works 100% but it does help in reducing the effect.


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