Acute mountain sickness, symptoms and solutions
As people go for trekking in high elevation the problem of the altitude is prevalent. As people go higher the physiology of the body cannot change as it needs to change so altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness appears. Acute mountain sickness can strike anyone as low as 2500 meters of elevation. People going for Everest Base Camp trek and Makalu Barun area with high passes as well as Everest Three High Pass Trek are more susceptible than other area. Trekkers going to higher elevation like take a flight which land in higher elevation are more severely affected. Minor symptoms are felt by many hikers but people who are hiking up have fewer problems than those flying up.
Mild symptoms of altitude sickness are;
- Loss of appetite,
- Headache and nausea,
- Sleep disturbance and mild weakness,
- Mild shortness of breath and dizziness,
- Slight swelling of hands and face.
- As long as the symptoms remain mild no need to worry much and need to remain at the same elevation until feel better. Never keep ascending with mild symptoms as there is a saying “Do not take headache higher”. Medication might help for betterment if it doesn’t help, go down to the place where the first symptoms occur.
Serious symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness;
- Severe and persistent headache,
- Persistent vomiting, fatigue or extreme lassitude and low passing of urine,
- Severe coughing and coughing of pink or rust color sputum,
- Blueness of face and lips,
- Wet, bubbly breathing,
- Very high heartbeat even after taking rest and
- Loss of coordination, get confused and frequently goes on a coma.
Normally due to the presence of the fluids in the lungs obstructs the respiratory system and give some of the symptoms listed above. Swelling of the brain is serious symptoms of AMS, people with swollen brain get severe headache, lack of coordination, progressing to severe lassitude and total apathy leading to coma and death. Normally people with serious symptoms of acute mountain sickness must be accompanied by somebody to go down or must be rescued.
Solutions to the Acute Mountain Sickness
Not all the trekking area they have medical or rescue facilities so taking a precaution before one get suffered from AMS is the best way to avoid it. The steps to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness are;
Take proper amount of rest at various intermediate altitudes,
Increase fluid intake like tea, coffee, soup etc.
Avoid alcoholic drinks,
Take more carbohydrate,
Take acetazolamide and dexamethasone and
Descend down to comfortable elevation.
If somebody get caught with the AMS very fast, a Gamow bag, a portable hyperbaric chamber might be very ideal for temporary treatment. A person who suffered from AMS is kept inside and increases the pressure inside the bag. The use of the bag doesn’t replace the descent. The best solution is going down to the elevation where the sick person feels comfortable or rescued by the helicopter.