Mountain ranges intrigue all, especially us, the hikers. They offer some of the most amazing hiking experiences and we just can’t get enough of it. That being said, it is not easy to walk at high altitude even with the tips and hacks. There are some inherent risks of High Altitude Sickness, otherwise known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).
What is High Altitude Sickness
High Altitude Sickness or AMS are fancy words to refer to the collection of different symptoms that occur when a hiker or any person tries to ascend quickly at altitudes over 8202 feet or 2500 meters.
Why does it happen?
In simple words, when someone goes higher, the atmospheric pressure gradually decreases and consequently, the oxygen levels start to fall. So, the body gets less and less oxygen and when something like this happens, the lungs and heart work overtime to make up for it.
When a person tries to ascend quicker than their body needs time to acclimatize to the sudden alteration in atmospheric conditions, AMS or Altitude Sickness becomes inevitable.
The basic symptoms of hiking sickness or AMS are:
- Minor headache
- Extreme lethargy
- Sleep deprivation
- Out-of-Breath lungs
Along with all these basic symptoms of high altitude hiking sickness, there are some other advanced or severe symptoms that occur only to a number of people whose bodies and internal systems are not at all comfortable with the change in weather and atmosphere. These are
- Rapid pulses
- Coordination and balance loss
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
How to prevent?
The main goal should be to acclimatize slowly.
Everyone adapts differently. However, if one of your friends took a few hours for that, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to adapt this soon.
Before arriving at the place: You can’t just walk 15 miles when you have just reached here. That’s why it is important to stretch a little and what better way to do it than by doing some extensive workout.
Hydration: Form the moment you step in the city where you are hoping to have the best hiking experience – up to actually going on the trail, drink at least 3 liters of water each day. When you finally hit the trail, speed up even more and drink 3.5-4 liters a day.
Slow ascending: Do not overexert the primary stages of hike. Make a goal and then sperate the goal into several small ones. Aim at finishing each small parts only and quit worrying about the whole hike at a time. For example, if you have to climb 3000 meters, you can divide the climb into 12 smaller ones and then aim at one at a time. In this way, you won’t feel the rush to finish the whole ascending at once.
Also, take smaller steps and cover only a small altitude with each step. No need to take giant steps to finish early. Also, never race to see who can reach the top first. In short, avoid any rush to complete the hike fast. Take a deep breath and slowly move towards your goal. One step at a time.