There are two critical words you should know while traveling to the mountains. ‘ACCLIMATIZATION’ & 'ALTITUDE SICKNESS'
Acclimatization (also called acclimation or acclimatation) is the process of adjusting to the changes in the environment (such as the change in altitude, temperature, humidity, etc.). Acclimatization occurs in a short period, like hours to weeks depending upon the individual. Acclimatizing to the changed environment is very important because it won’t give a chance to the starting of a problem called altitude sickness.
Adaptation to the local environment is required and can be easily obtained by short walks, hikes and excursions with few ups and downs. Taking an extra day or two as the rest day is the best idea to acclimatize. In all our journeys to higher altitude regions, we have reserved extra days as acclimatization days when one can fully acclimatize before heading to higher altitudes. Acclimatization is needed in higher altitudes of above 3000-4000 meters.
Altitude sickness, also called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is an illness or adverse health effect caused by high altitude. It happens due to the low amounts of oxygen at high altitudes. Traveling at higher altitudes above 3000-4000m is strenuous and can cause altitude sickness, so proper acclimatization is necessary. This sickness can be a fatal problem if allowed to be prolonged.Note: Travelers with pre-existing heart, lung or other problems should seek a doctor's advice before booking the trip. Drinking at least 3 liters of water daily while in the mountains is always advisable.
Rather than one or two, a group of symptoms usually appear as a person gains altitude. These symptoms vary in intensity in the elevations at which they occur, depending on the individual experiencing them. The predominant characteristic associated with altitude sickness is headache.
The severe symptoms that are life-threatening, come with these two problems:
Prevention of altitude sickness is pretty simple. Acclimatize yourself well before going higher. Make a slow and gradual ascent and allow sufficient rest at intermediate altitudes. The perfect height to gain in a day is 500/600 meters. If you go beyond that, it’s hard to tell. Therefore, using this prevention method or listening to your guide’s instructions, you can prevent AMS.
If the symptoms are mild, you should rest until they subside. If the symptoms become more severe or do not disappear after a night's sleep, you should descend until you feel well.
It is recommended that the drug be started on the morning of ascent above 10000ft/3000m and continued until descent or the person feels acclimatized. Please inform your guide/group leader if you decide to take acetazolamide. It should not be taken by people who are allergic to sulfur drugs. Severe altitude sickness affects few trekkers; most know when to stop and head back down. All of our treks are based on experience and are planned to gain height gradually, with days allowed for rest and acclimatization.Note: Acclimatization is the only way to avoid Altitude Sickness, so please be cautious while traveling to the mountains.