Dealing With the Problem of Altitude Sickness While Trekking

There are so many people who don’t prefer doing hiking or trekking only for the reason of altitude sickness. Not many people take this seriously unless they experience it on its own. That is why it is always better to speak with the health care expert about taking care of altitude sickness symptoms if any of it ever has happened before or is likely to happen. While trekking to a high elevation without even giving the body some time to adjust to a new altitude, the problem of altitude sickness shall happen. It is always better to take precautionary measures so that common signs like nausea and headache can be rightly taken care of.

What is altitude sickness?

For those who have ever experienced a headache or nausea while hiking up the mountain, it probably is one of the altitude sickness symptoms. This is also known as mountain sickness. If the right actions are taken at the preliminary level, then it can be controlled otherwise, this would turn out to be life-threatening as well. Such a situation can arise more commonly while traveling to a high altitude. But this does not just happen with the hikers only. Sometimes those who simply visit the location that is at a high altitude can also experience the same concerns. There are some signs that often happen when the body is finding its way to adjust with the low air pressure and low level of oxygen at altitudes that are higher than the usual one.

Who is at risk for altitude sickness?

There is no specific set of people who would face altitude sickness symptoms. Often anyone can be a victim of it. Irrespective of sex, age, and even general health, this problem can happen to anyone. But a person who is more at risk is:

  • The person with a heart or lung condition. The healthcare expert would advise avoiding the altitudes that would be quite high if needed

  • The person who is expecting to deliver a baby in the coming soon shall be advised to avoid the location that has a higher altitude as well

  • The person has been living at a low elevation for quite some time. Those who have been suddenly planning for a trip to a location with high altitude must make themselves aware of the symptoms associated with it

  • This can also be more serious even for the person who already had such an episode of altitude sickness earlier. In that case, it is important to speak with the healthcare expert on the treatment and prevention options before planning for the next trip.

The range of high altitude that can cause sickness symptoms:

Usually, the first-time travelers who are planning to visit for the first time to any of the high-altitude locations, need to be clear if their respective location also falls in the same height. This means any of these elevations may increase the risk of altitude sickness symptoms

  •  8,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level is a High altitude.
  • 12,000 to 18,000 feet is considered a very high altitude.
  • 18,000+ feet are an extremely high altitude.

Different altitude sickness forms:

There are so many people who usually get altitude sickness symptoms in the form of acute mountain sickness. It usually happens to more than 75% of the people and is categorized into different forms such as:

  • Mild AMS:

In such a case, there could be signs such as fatigue, mild headache and not being much comfortable performing regular activities. Signs may improve as the person’s body acclimates. Even at the current elevation if the person stays for some time, then the body can adjust too.

  • Moderate AMS:

In such a case there could be noticeable signs that may happen while performing some activities. The person can experience nausea, headache, and even difficulty coordinating well. It is important to descent in order to feel better in such a case.

  • Severe AMS:

This scenario is something to not ignore because the person may feel short of breath even while resting. This could make the person weak enough to even walk. At such a time, descending quickly to the low altitude can work.

Of all the forms, there are two major altitude illness forms that may happen less frequently but could be more serious as well. Certainly, this can be a life-threatening one. At such time, it is important to descend quickly and get the medical attention. Talking of those forms is:

  • HAPE (High-altitude pulmonary edema):

It creates excess fluid in the lung which eventually causes breathlessness when the person is resting. The person could even feel fatigued and weak and may feel suffocated.

  • HACE (High-altitude cerebral edema):

This problem may cause excess accumulation of the fluid in the brain which may result in swelling of the brain. This would cause confusion and lack of coordination and sometimes violent behavior as well.

Know the common causes:

The primary reason for frequent altitude sickness symptoms is of course the heights where the person is. When the person is on a particular height which could possibly be more than 8000ft then there are some of the common signs that could be noted. Usually, this could be because of the sudden change in the pressure of the air and level of the oxygen at the high elevation. There are some notable signs that happen during the high elevation as the body don’t get much of the time to adjust to less oxygen.

Other than this, low pressure of the air and a high range of altitude can cause the leakage of the fluid from the blood vessels. Often researchers don’t really know the reason why such a thing happens. But primarily it is the leakage that results in the fluid getting accumulated in the brain and lungs.


This problem is not a rare one and hence not many people really are worried about it. It usually happens in more than half of the people who usually climb up the level of 8000 feet or more than that. But it is always better to take the right measures so that while climbing at such a location, there is a minimal risk which can be controllable too.