Sometimes, the best of trekking plans can be spoiled by the sudden affliction called Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS). It is the effect on the body on being in the highest of altitudes environment. Various people who go to heights suffer from such condition. Its occurrence depends on various factors like altitude, the rate of ascent as well as an individual’s susceptibility. Anyone who is a hiker, trekker, or adventure lover may have AMS. It is also known as altitude sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema. Usually, it occurs at around 2400 meters above the sea level. It may make a person dizzy. It can cause headaches, nausea, shortness of breath etc.
What is the reason behind acute mountain sickness?
One of the most important reasons due to which a person can have acute mountain sickness is high altitudes as they have lower levels of oxygen and decreased pressure. You would’ve noticed that when you fly in planes, drive or hike up in a mountain, you start feeling uneasiness. This is because your body does not get enough time to adjust to that situation. If you keep pushing yourself to climb more altitudes, you might feel altitude sickness.
Symptoms that you may experience: The signs generally arise as soon as you start reaching higher altitudes. Within hours, it starts advancing.
There are two types of AMS:
- Mild Acute Mountain Sickness: If you have this type of sickness, there are various signs that you may experience like:
1. A headache
3. Loss of appetite
5. Rapid Heartbeat
6. Physical exertion
9. Swelling of the hands, feet as well as face
- Severe Acute Mountain Sickness: This type causes extreme symptoms which affect your heart, lungs and sometimes nervous system.
Some other symptoms include:
1. Lack of balance
2. Inability to walk
4. Chest Congestion
5. Social Withdrawal
Who is more vulnerable?
There are many who face only mild symptoms but in some people, the severity could get worse. You are more vulnerable to this kind of sickness if you by or near the sea and are not accustomed to higher altitudes.
There are some other risk factors also there which include:
- Traveling to extreme heights
- Past history of AMS
- Physical exertion
How can you diagnose it?
It is important to talk to your doctor if you are having some complications which traveling and climbing high altitudes. He will ask you to explain your symptoms, medical history, recent travels etc. On that basis, he will diagnose whether you are suffering from acute mountain sickness or not.
How is it treated?
The treatment varies on the severity as well as the sensitivity of the condition. There might be chances that you avoid the complications by returning to the normal altitude. If the condition becomes worse and the swelling start in your brain, it is strongly recommended to get hospitalized.
There are some medications that could help you in treating this problem. They include:
- Lung Inhalers
- Aspirin for head relief
- Reducing your activity level
- Keep your body hydrated with water
- Taking proper rest before going to high altitudes.
How can you prevent?
Some precautionary measures can help you reduce your chances of developing AMS. The most important thing to do is get a full proof checkup of yours before going to any kind of trip. Read the symptoms earlier and be prepared for it in future. Keep all the medications with you in case of any kind of emergency. Make sure you are completely fit to go on a trip.
This is all about acute mountain sickness. Make sure you don’t catch it. Share it with your friends and family to create awareness. Travel Safe and Be Safe.