Health problems during the trek in the Himalayan regions
Successful completion of the trip is of utmost importance to enjoy the bucket list adventure activities and walking holidays in the Himalayan regions. A Himalayan region is quiet big and varieties of activities are carried out to enjoy the nature, landscape and beauty as well as culture and tradition of the area. One of the major programs many people enjoy is walking or doing trekking in the area. Still some people cannot complete the trip due to some health problems they encounter during their trips. Here we are discussing about the different type of health problems which one might get during the treks in the high altitude and the best ways to avoid or treat or recover from them. Here are the major problems one can get during trek in the Himalayas.
Diarrhea and dysentery
Diarrhea and dysentery looks similar but they are different. Most of the trekker will have a bout of diarrhea during his her trek. Number and nature of stool pass and whether the diarrhea came suddenly or gradually is the major issue to do self-medication of diarrhea. Simple diarrhea can be easily treated as you can stop carbonation by drinking clear fluids like hot water, ginger tea, clear soup etc. Drinking a lot of fluid is necessary to avoid dehydration. Avoid dairy products during diarrhea. Oral rehydration solution is a good remedy for less severe diarrhea and if the diarrhea is serious and prolonged for many days take medicines. In some severe cases even antibiotics are necessary.
Some people might have altitude sickness as low as 2,500 meters above sea level. If you are not feeling well at altitude, it’s an altitude illness until proven other reason. Normally when people take a flight that lands directly in high altitude and start walking, they might suffer more from altitude sickness than people who starts at relatively low elevation. Mild altitude sickness will go if you take a rest for a day. If the problem is severe one supposed to be evacuated or go down until he /she feels comfortable. Altitude can kill people don’t try to ascend with symptoms of altitude sickness. We have another article which details in altitude sickness. Further reading to altitude sickness is very useful.
Strains, sprains and blisters
Strains are tears in muscles and sprains are tears or stretching of ligaments. As many people are not used to walk long distance than the body will protest against long walking. The strains are developed especially in thigh and calf muscles. When you got strains climbing and descending both are very painful. One should gradually increase the amount of activities so the body will toughen up and adjust. When people do not concentrate in trails like taking pictures, looking at fellow trekkers, talking to guide and porters they can twist and sprain a joint most commonly ankles and knees. Ankle sprains are common when the foot turns inwards. Icing or cooling the affected part might overcome the problem otherwise use elastic bandage. If the boot doesn’t fit well or if people use new boots there is possibility to develop blisters and walking is uncomfortable once the blisters got drained. Put a proper adhesive tape if you develop blisters. Take special cares when you take off these tapes as you might take part of the skin off. Keep the feet dry all the time as moist feet are more prone to blisters.
This condition mostly occurs when loss of body heat exceeds gain and body core temperature drops drastically. The combination of physical exhaustion and wet or insufficient clothing and failure to eat or dehydrate in high altitude result in hypothermia. Wear sufficient and adequate clothing as well as taking sufficient fluids and foods can do better with hypothermia.
There is less chance that one can suffer from the frostbite during the trek as exposure to extreme temperatures does not last for long time but some time crossing the high passes people might get mild frostbites. Frostbite actually is a frozen body tissues that most commonly affect fingers, toes, ears, nose and chins. Adequate clothing and equipment, sufficient food and avoiding dehydration and exhaustion can save people from frostbite. If people develop symptoms of frostbite rapid rewarming the affected part with relatively warm part of the body like armpit or stomach will help.
If there is no underlying medical condition like abscess or Pneumonia the fever might be due to flu illness or exposure to rain or low temperatures. If there are no other associated problems like vomiting, nausea, joint aches or diarrhea fever can be treated with Paracetamol or some analgesic like ibuprofen. If somebody gets a severe fever they might need to take common and appropriate antibiotics.
As the body is not used to the routine and meals, constipation is common at the beginning of the trek. Drinking plenty of fluids can help for overcoming constipation and in some cases mild laxatives might be taken. Most of the villages use a locally available source of fiber to get rid of constipation.
Mild cough is common during the trek that results may be from smoky kitchens or exposure to dust in some trails. The cough might be dry as it does not produce sputum or might be producing sputum. Take some expectorant which will help to overcome. If the cough accompanied by other symptoms of altitude sickness proper remedy must be sought.
Sunburns and snow blindness
In the exposed area the redness of the skin is due to sunburns. Sun burns do not kill any of the tissues at the beginning but can develop some small blisters in the affected area. The severity depends on area, depth and location on the body. Apply proper sun cream and cover the part of the body which got affected more. Drinking plenty of fluid and some skin ointment are recommended to overcome sun burns. Cover with sterile dressing and apply some antibiotic ointments if the problem is severe. At the higher elevation there is very less atmosphere to filter solar radiation and the snow reflects all the radiation gives snow blindness. Carry a proper dark glass for snow blindness.
Insect bites and worms and wild animals
Many trekking area leech are very common especially during monsoon and lower elevation. Except some itching for few days, leeches are healthier. Leech bite bother people giving itching. The affected area might be washed with hot water and antiseptics are applied. Mostly insect bites are not a common problem but some time people might get bitten by some wasps and bees and swell the affected area but that will go within a day. There are not much cases of wild animal attack to trekkers but one must be cautious with Yaks. A butt by yak might tear your skins apart. While crossing the trails with caravan always stay on the upper side or hill side. Yak or donkey carrying loads might be angry and push people down. Protozoa and amoeba infestation might occur during the trek, take proper medication for that.
Did you found this blog helpful, Please share the blogs with the people whose next destination will be Himalayas especially walking in the high mountains. This is very helpful to them to prepare their trip. The sharing buttons are located in the top right corner.
If you are interested to participate in different type of trekking which we offer with our professional first aid trained guides please carry on reading about trekking in Nepal. Thank you very much for your time from the expert of Himalayan Travel Consultant team.