Altitude Sickness in Nepal : Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

  • Summit Trooper Rescue Services Pvt. Ltd.
  • September 22, 2019

Altitude Sickness in Nepal : Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Mountain climbing in nepal

Mountain climbing is a hobby moreover addiction where people climb mountains which involve hiking, rock climbing,also crossing glaciers with mountaineering. Although after harder climbs only the best view comes. Mountain climbing is a risky activity and should be taken seriously no matter how easy a chosen peak or mountain might seem as mountains are filled with danger and drama. Rockfall and avalanches that fall rapidly down a mountainside can be deadly. These type of complications can slow you, forcing you to bivouac in open area. But what if you have gone for the most awaited dream trek or hike of your life and suddenly your body gives up midway to Altitude Sickness keeping aside of these natural circumstances that may occur? Will you move on to trek despite the illness or turn back? Here is all you need to know about Altitude Sickness in Nepal its causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention before trek.

What is Altitude Sickness?

Altitude Sickness in Nepal occurs at about 8,000 feet, or 2,400 meters, above sea level for hikers and adventurers who travel to high altitudes. Other names for this condition are acute mountain sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema and the common symptoms are headache, vertigo, nausea, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat. Most often, Mountain sickness are mild and heal quickly. In few cases, this can become severe and needs emergency medical service.

Causes of Acute Mountain Sickness

Higher altitudes ought to have lower oxygen levels and decreased air pressure so when you hike up a mountain, or go skiing, your body cannot adjust. This can leads to your body suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness. You are at higher risk if you live at or near sea level and travel to a high altitude.

Other causes are :
The faster you climb to a high altitude, the greater the chance you will get acute mountain sickness.
If you have had the illness before.
If you ascend too quickly.
If you have severe medical problems in heart, nervous system, or lungs.

Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness

The early symptoms appear within hours of moving to higher altitudes.

Altitude sickness in Nepal

Mild Acute Mountain Sickness Symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting
  • Body ache and muscle aches
  • Insomnia and irritability
  • Loss of appetite and weakness
  • Rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the feet, hands, and face
  • Severe Acute Mountain Sickness Symptoms:

  • Continuous coughing and chest congestion
  • Severe breathlessness with difficulty in breathing
  • Skin discoloration and Pale complexion
  • Inability to walk and lacking of balance
  • A severe headache with altered vision
  • Treatment of Altitude Sickness

    Treatment of Altitude Sickness in Nepal depends on its severity and seriousness. Sometimes you can avoid harsh complications by simply returning to lower altitude before it becomes more severe. If severe symptoms occur, you require oxygen or need to hospitalize.

    Here is what you can do before it becomes severe:

    1. Descend to Lower Altitude

    For mild altitude sickness, you can stay at current altitude to check if body adjusts. If symptoms isn’t getting better in 24 to 48 hours or if it got worsen, then you should descend to lower altitude and emergency medical care. For severe symptoms, you should go down 1,500 to 2,000 feet and keep going down until symptoms go away. Take medical aid as soon as possible as waiting could leads serious problems or even death.
    If symptoms are mild afterwards, you should not ascend to higher altitude until symptoms are completely gone.

    2. Treat Symptoms

    Take rest. Use lung inhalers and take oxygen if possible. Drink plenty of liquids and keep yourself warm. Take medicine for breathing problems and headache relief under suggestion of medical practicioner. Avoid alcohol and sleeping medications.

    3. Consult with a Doctor

    If mild symptoms still continues after the descent, call a health care provider. If the person develops any signs and symptoms of high-altitude cerebral edema or high-altitude pulmonary edema occuring severe symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

    Prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness :

    Start from low

    You should start your journey below 10,000 feet. If you have to fly or drive somewhere above 10,000 feet, stop at one destination that’s lower for at least a full day before ascending higher. If you hike, or climb over 10,000 feet then only move up an additional 1,000 feet per day. It is best recommended to to some days rest and acclimatize to altitude.

    Get information before going

    Get aware about the symptoms of altitude sickness so that you can recognize and treat them accordingly if they occur. You should do lung exercises to build stamina for months before the trek.

    Get medical check-up done

    Get check up before and ensure you have no serious health issues.

    Stay hydrated and eat well

    Drink plenty of water every day. Consume foods high in carbohydrates making sure about 70% of your calories are coming from carbs. Carry dry fruits and chocolates as it can relieves altitude sickness.


    Avoid alcoholic beverages and smoking, tobacco, or other medications, such as sleeping pills.

    Choose a reliable Travel agency

    Book a Travel agency who have veteran staff, well-connected and customer service oriented.

    You have only one life and is more precious than climbing a mountain. Altitude Sickness is a serious thing to consider so, don’t risk your life for thinking twice before turning back. You can also go to trek again.

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