Altitude sickness while trekking in Nepal is a real concern that can affect you or your friends, regardless of age, trekking experience, or level of fitness. This is a major and valid concern shared by trekkers in Nepal. If we don't live at a very high altitude, our bodies aren't acclimatized to breathing in low oxygen.

For example, if you ascend fast, this can cause major problems like shortness of breath. If any of the symptoms aren't addressed quickly, they can lead to serious health conditions like HACE and HAPE. 

All our itineraries allow us enough time to acclimate ourselves to the conditions safely. In this article, we will talk about What is altitude sickness, its symptoms, and other related stuff to ensure you stay informed and safe in your situation, so there are no worries.


Altitude Sickness

When you reach above 8,000 feet (2,400m), altitude sickness becomes a real concern. Trekkers start getting symptoms like headaches, vomiting, and dizziness. It is extremely important to acclimatize to avoid altitude sickness during trekking in Nepal

We suggest you ensure you acclimatize at a lower altitude before reaching the maximum elevation on the same day. It is also important to keep yourself hydrated and pace yourself. 

Go slowly from day one, stay with the group so they can help you if you're feeling unwell, and take some rest. 

Eventually, descending is the best remedy to get treatment for this very serious condition. 


Causes of Altitude Sickness

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

Recognizing the symptoms is a crucial step towards managing altitude sickness effectively.

Some of the common symptoms include: 

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Insomnia
  • General Malaise

One or two symptoms are common when you are at altitude. If you feel so, it doesn't mean you have altitude sickness. Remember, it doesn't mean these symptoms stay for long. If these symptoms persist, it's time to start taking things seriously. Take appropriate health measures.

In rare events, if symptoms of altitude sickness are ignored, this situation can lead you to serious medical conditions (HACE and HAPE). So it's worth knowing the types and symptoms of altitude sickness:


1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

It is one of the mild forms of altitude sickness. If treated immediately trekkers can complete the trek without any delay. However, if ignored, it can result in something more serious.

Common symptoms of AMS include tiredness, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, and headaches. These symptoms can be treated with medication. However, one should not just ignore these symptoms.


2. High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE)

It is another type of mountain sickness but a more serious one. In this type, fluid is collected in the lungs and it can be very dangerous. It is one of the main causes of death as well.

The symptoms of HAPE are similar to AMS so one can ignore the seriousness and may think medication can solve the issue. However, the situation can quickly escalate to seriousness as symptoms change to shortness of breath, dry coughs, severe headache, confusion state, and loss of coordination.

During such conditions, seeking immediate medical attention is required. Delay in medical attention can lead to life-threatening events so it is very important to be mindful of a patient's condition.

Nevertheless, it is a treatable condition so one should not be entirely scared about it. However, it is quite important to not exhaust our bodies while hiking at high elevations.


3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

HACE is another serious version of altitude sickness. In this type, fluid is collected in the brain and thus is life-threatening. This happens when our body is unable to adapt to low oxygen levels at higher elevations.

Symptoms of HACE include severe headache which won’t be treated with medication, confusion, irritability, hallucinations, loss of balance and coordination, and blurred vision along with symptoms of AMS but a bit more severe.

Just like HAPE, immediate medical attention is needed. Alongside, descending the patient to a lower altitude is also equally important.


Symptoms of altitude sickness


Preventive of Altitude sickness

Following are the ways to prevent altitude sickness while hiking the high-altitude trekking areas of Nepal.


Do not miss the acclimatization days 

Acclimatization days are strategically incorporated into the trekking itineraries to allow trekkers time to adjust to the changing elevations and the surroundings.


Do not rush the journey

Rushing the journey is an invitation to the symptoms of altitude sickness. If you rush the journey, your body will not properly acclimatize to the new environment which will result in being sick.


Constantly Hydrate yourself

Drinking plenty of water is one of the preventive measures for altitude sickness. It is recommended to drink at least 4 liters of water while doing high-altitude treks.


Watch your diet

One must watch what they are eating. Heavy meals, full of protein are not recommended while doing high-altitude treks. They are difficult to digest and can cause other health issues like abdominal discomfort.


Say no to smoking, and drinking while hiking

Smoking and drinking alcohol are huge while trekking high elevations. Alcohol and Smoking dehydrate your body and delimit the capacity of your lungs to transfer oxygen to other parts of your body. Hence, these things are strictly discouraged while trekking in high-altitude areas.


Take medications

Trekkers can take medications like Diamox or similar for altitude sickness. Nevertheless, it is highly suggested to consult with your health professional before taking any medications.


Drink plenty of garlic soup 

We highly encourage drinking garlic soup while hiking in high-altitude areas. There may be limited scientific backing in this matter but locals specifically recommend having garlic soup as a remedy for altitude sickness. Besides, it is stated that garlic helps in widening blood vessels and improves blood flow and circulation, which ultimately alleviates symptoms of altitude sickness by ensuring sufficient oxygen delivery to tissues and organs.


Altitude sickness during trekking in Nepal is a real concern that needs immediate treatment. Never ignore the symptoms of altitude sickness as soon as they appear. Rest can be a better solution to recover soon, as it will give you time to acclimate your body. 


Treatment for Altitude Sickness


When should you seek medical attention?

Rest and proper acclimatization are the best ways to manage mild altitude sickness symptoms. Yet, there are situations when medical attention becomes vital.

In cases of severe symptoms like:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing up pink or frothy sputum


It's time to seek medical assistance immediately. These symptoms may indicate HACE or HAPE that requires immediate medical treatment. Reduced oxygen levels and lower air pressure at higher elevations can cause altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS).

Altitude sickness in Nepal trekking can occur at altitudes above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) and is more common at altitudes above 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).

If you or someone else experiences persistent symptoms, immediately seek medical attention. Prompt treatment can help you recover quickly without complicating the situation. 


Rest, descend, and communicate

If you experience any altitude sickness symptoms, it is time to rest so your body can acclimate. If the symptoms persist, descend to a power destination if necessary. Descending anywhere to at least 300 meters (1,000 feet) can alleviate altitude sickness symptoms significantly. 

Open communication with your trekking guide. Inform them if you experience any symptoms to get the necessary support and guidance. Experienced guides can recognize the situation and advise you on the best course of action. 

Plan your trek in the best season

March to May and October to November are the major trekking seasons. Choosing to trek during these times can have a significant impact on your overall trekking experience and minimize any altitude sickness risk to a minimum. 

Choosing the best time provides favorable weather conditions and clearer views of the stunning landscapes that can make your experience great! Heavy rainfalls happen from June to September, so avoid trekking in these months. Similarly, avoid trekking in the colder months (December to February).


Final Thoughts 

Altitude sickness in Nepal trekking should be taken seriously. Many trekkers can avoid thinking it's common, but as they appear to persist, immediately get treatment. 

Corrective measures like drinking water, avoiding alcohol, avoiding smoking, and asking for help if there are any concerns are paramount to tackling altitude sickness. 

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