Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick


Tibetan Heights
Unless it arrives slowly, by land, the Tibetan Plateau is a typical example of a more than likely altitude sickness.
solitary walk
Hiker approaches Mount Swargadwari Danda (4800m) and Dhukurpokhari, halfway to Pisang.
Homes among Mountains
The houses of Lhasa, capital of Tibet, at the foot of arid mountains.
North America's heyday
Aerial view from the highest summit of Mount McKinley or Denali, the supreme mountain in North America at an altitude of 6194 meters.
Neon Version Yak Kharka
Collection of promotional signs upon arrival of Yak Kharka.
nepalese cattle
Yak rests against the grand backdrop of one of the Annapurnas' sharp peaks.
a short walk
Wayne McMillan next to the Pegasus of the Mount Cook Ski Planes that has just landed in the heights of the Southern Alps.
Torres del Paine I
A dirt road leads to one of the lakes surrounding the Torres del Paine.
the big nothing
Cable car cables disappear in the clouds that invade the Sierra Nevada de Mérida
basotho cowboys
Basotho riders on horseback of the tough basuto horses in the traditional hats and blankets of the nation.
solitary walk
Hiker approaches Mount Swargadwari Danda (4800m) and Dhukurpokhari, halfway to Pisang.
When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.

As altitude increases, atmospheric pressure decreases and so does the amount of oxygen in the air.

As we've all had the opportunity to notice, oxygen is sorely lacking. Its absence causes a drastic change in the rhythm and intensity of breathing.

At the same time, it causes a disruption in the balance of body water in the blood versus the tissues. The organism suffers from the presence at high altitudes whether or not there has been the necessary habituation.

Without this habituation, altitude sickness can only have annoying or even drastic consequences.

Symptoms that can get worse at a glance

The effects are felt more or less depending on the altitude, the speed with which you get there.

They also depend on the altitude at which the person normally lives and other variables such as lung capacity (change in pace and intensity would always be better supported, for example, by Olympic swimmers) and other “strengths” or weaknesses of each organism.

As a rule, the symptoms of altitude sickness begin to be obvious above 2000 m and intensify substantially above 2800 m.

A physically fit traveler can get used to altitudes in the order of 3000 m in a few days.

Altitudes of 5000, 6000 m and above require longer acclimatization, possibly weeks.

Diseases and Symptoms

With average altitude changes – for example 3000 m – the most normal consequence will only be Acute Mountain Evil : a very persistent and disturbing headache, with some bad luck, also nausea and even vomiting.

The other symptom that stands out is the intensifying tiredness that becomes exasperating with mere exercises like climbing a staircase or a hillside path.

Exercise also makes headaches and other symptoms worse.

Interestingly, these symptoms tend to be felt more in young people than in older people.

Pulmonary Edema of Heights

It occurs in more extreme cases – almost only above 2800 m – and more frequently in men than in women.

It is caused by the accumulation of water in the lungs and is more likely to happen with a history of a cold or a simple lung infection.

It may reveal itself between the first and fourth day after ascension.

He experiences a more intense shortness of breath than acute mountain sickness, itching of the lungs, a dry cough and, shortly thereafter, the formation of large amounts of sputum that can be pink and even contain blood.

Before long, Pulmonary Edema of Heights can develop into a condition that puts the victim between life and death.

The debacle of altitude sickness and the cause of many deaths among climbers is the worst of its consequences:

 o Cerebral Edema of Heights.

It can form directly or as a result of acute mountain sickness and/or high-altitude pulmonary edema 1 to 4 days after ascent.

It generates more intense headaches, followed by hallucinations and a loss of judgment and even senses.

These symptoms increase with altitude.

With a suspicion of cerebral edema from heights, any climber should be immediately transferred to a lower altitude and to a hospital.

Diving shortly before any ascent greatly aggravates any of the above ailments and their symptoms.

so it's not so bad

1 – Acclimatize the necessary time. Some equipment simulates the environment hypoxic. Allow for a more anticipated habituation.

2 – Drink lots of water, avoid coffee, alcohol and any other type of diuretic

3 – Always walk calmly and rest without haste

4 – Faced with a more than probable lack of coca leaves to chew (they are rare and illegal) except for some communities of natives of the Andes, consume gingko biloba.

This supplement is believed to speed up the acclimatization process and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.

5 – You can also use acetazolamide, a substance marketed as Diamox that has the same effect as gingko, but probably much more effective.

If taking acetazolamide, drink plenty of water. It is a diuretic.

Personal Cases, not very extreme and without Serious Consequences:

Gradual Ascent in the Andean Mountains, Argentina

During a trip through South America, Sara and I rented a car in Salta, at 1187 m above sea level, in northern Argentina, and explored a large part of the Andean mountain range.

On the first of these occasions, we climbed gradually and stayed overnight at one or another inn while we walked around the famous Ruta 40

At some point, we found ourselves on roads in the Andean Puna at more than 4500 m altitude.

Since the ascent to this altitude was gradual and took about two days, the only symptoms of discomfort we felt were enormous tiredness and wheezing that it took us forever to regularize each time we needed to climb some hill to get scenarios. more open.

Quick ascent to the top of the Mount Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii

As a matter of calendar, we were allotted time to explore the Big Island.

With a rental car, we drove in a short time from Hilo, on the east coast of the island (17 meters above sea level) to the Sadlle Road – Route 200 – detour to the last access road to the summit of the Mount Mauna Kea.

This diversion is at a “mere” 2021 meters of altitude. Mauna Kea is the mount highest à face of the Earth, only and only if the altitude is counted from the bottom of the sea.

As its underwater base is located at 6000 m deep and the summit is located at 4203 m above sea level. The "total" altitude of the Mauna Kea is thus 10.203 m.

But, let's get back on the road. We only had this afternoon at the Big Island to climb to the top of the Mauna Kea.

Authorities and common sense advise that no visitors do so directly from sea level and, if they do, to acclimatise for as long as possible halfway through the Onizuka Visitor Center.

By the time we got there, the sun had already dropped farther down the horizon than we were counting.

As we were not willing to leave the Hawaii without the experience of ascending the summit of Mauna Kea to enjoy the sights and its vast astronomical station, we decided to proceed fifteen minutes later and pay the consequences.

At the top, Sara didn't feel anything special. Me Marco, I immediately started to suffer from a severe headache, dizziness and a really unusual tiredness. These symptoms lasted for about 40 minutes.

Or because my organism was adapting quickly, or, who knows also a little, because the incredible scenery from the top to the sunset and twilight helped me to abstract, a little later I was just feeling tired.

We descended apparently unharmed, but I have to confess that I started to get seriously worried about the combination of dizziness and headache.

Trip to Lhasa, Tibet

We were walking through Chengdu, in the Chinese province of Sichuan, one of the places from which it is now easiest to reach Tibet. The trips to the Tibet they are controlled by the Chinese government and are not always possible.

At that time, it was possible and we didn't know if we would have another opportunity to be so close so soon.

Housed in such a Mix Hotel, we realized that they organized trips to explore the Tibet. For a few days, we waited for more guests interested in forming a small group and this came to pass.

We were joined by Jacob, a Swede, and Ryan, an American. We and Jacob bought a flight from Chengdu, located at an average altitude of 500 m) to Lhasa, at 3650 meters.

Ryan was on an even tighter budget than ours. He decided to take the train and left Chengdu well ahead of us. The train journey took three days (44 hours, 3360 km).

Ryan had read somewhere that, by train, the problems with altitude either didn't go away or were more subtle. He even joked with us because he thought we were going to spend more money and suffer more than he did.

The flight took two hours. Shortly after we landed in Lhasa, while we were looking for a hotel with the guide who received us, Jacob and I walked with our heads “made in water”.

Sara thought she had once again avoided the famous Altitude Evil. The next morning, he was like us.

Stormy Headache in Tibetan Capital

We exchanged complaints for complaints and curses for not having preferred the train. However, the Ryan.

From what you described, despite the progressive ascent of the train, it was still worse than us and, in the train, it even had to resort to oxygen.

Apparently, not even the train journey was slow enough. Of course, we didn't waste the opportunity to be the one to make fun of him now. 

Whenever we stopped at a bar or restaurant in Lhasa, we invariably asked for ginger tea with honey. Whether it helped substantially or not is hard to say.

We know that Altitude Evil only completely passed us after two days of diminishing suffering.

We still covered a good part of the Tibet and we arrived at the Tibetan base camp on Mount Everest, at 5.300 meters.

In the meantime, we had bought cans of oxygen but our bodies had already got used to it and we only used them, inside the jeep, to simulate emergencies, as a joke.

Visit to the works of renovation of the Mérida cable car, the highest in the world, Venezuela

Here, in just over two hours, we climb a mini-cabin for transporting cargo and workers, from the 1630 meters of Mérida, to the 4.765 meters of Pico Espejo, the second highest in the country.

We had short stops in between, one of them at the workers' cafeteria, for a briefing and a small snack. Some of the people in the entourage started feeling symptoms of Altitude Evil right there. They never left the cafeteria.

As far as we are concerned, the problems only started on the last leg, between Loma Redonda station (4045 m) and the last one, already in Pico Espejo.

This time, I, Marco, just felt some tiredness and a slight dizziness. Sara and several other people had to descend in a semi-emergency to receive oxygen.

When they measured the oxygen in Sara's blood, the device read 72. We have a meter like that at home, and when we use it, it always gives us 98 or 99.

It was getting serious but she recovered shortly afterwards.

Note: If you want to read about really extreme Altitude Mal situations, check out the respective Wikipedia page we recommend serious climber blogs to you.

Annapurna Circuit: 2nd - Chame to Upper PisangNepal,

(I) Eminent Annapurnas

We woke up in Chame, still below 3000m. There we saw, for the first time, the snowy and highest peaks of the Himalayas. From there, we set off for another walk along the Annapurna Circuit through the foothills and slopes of the great mountain range. towards Upper Pisang.
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a Chame, Nepal,

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Jet Lag (Part 1)

Avoid Post-Flight Turbulence

When we fly across more than 3 time zones, the internal clock that regulates our body gets confused. The most we can do is alleviate the discomfort we feel until it gets right again.
Travel does not cost

On the next trip, don't let your money fly

Not only the time of year and in advance with which we book flights, stays, etc. influence the cost of a trip. The payment methods we use at destinations can make a big difference.
Mount Denali, Alaska

The Sacred Ceiling of North America

The Athabascan Indians called him Denali, or the Great, and they revered his haughtiness. This stunning mountain has aroused the greed of climbers and a long succession of record-breaking climbs.
Salta and Jujuy, Argentina

Through the Highlands of Deep Argentina

A tour through the provinces of Salta and Jujuy takes us to discover a country with no sign of the pampas. Vanished in the Andean vastness, these ends of the Northwest of Argentina have also been lost in time.
Mérida, Venezuela

Merida to Los Nevados: in the Andean Ends of Venezuela

In the 40s and 50s, Venezuela attracted 400 Portuguese but only half stayed in Caracas. In Mérida, we find places more similar to the origins and the eccentric ice cream parlor of an immigrant portista.
Lhasa, Tibet

Sera, the Monastery of the Sacred Debate

In few places in the world a dialect is used as vehemently as in the monastery of Sera. There, hundreds of monks, in Tibetan, engage in intense and raucous debates about the teachings of the Buddha.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Mauna Kea: the Volcano with an Eye out in Space

The roof of Hawaii was off-limits to natives because it housed benevolent deities. But since 1968, several nations sacrificed the peace of the gods and built the greatest astronomical station on the face of the Earth.
Mérida, Venezuela

The Vertiginous Renovation of the World's Highest Cable Car

Underway from 2010, the rebuilding of the Mérida cable car was carried out in the Sierra Nevada by intrepid workers who suffered firsthand the magnitude of the work.
Mendoza, Argentina

From One Side to the Other of the Andes

Departing from Mendoza city, the N7 route gets lost in vineyards, rises to the foot of Mount Aconcagua and crosses the Andes to Chile. Few cross-border stretches reveal the magnificence of this forced ascent
Mount cook, New Zealand

The Cloud Piercer Mountain

Aoraki/Mount Cook may fall far short of the world's roof but it is New Zealand's highest and most imposing mountain.
Jabula Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Safari
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

On the eminence of the coast of Mozambique, the province of KwaZulu-Natal is home to an unexpected South Africa. Deserted beaches full of dunes, vast estuarine swamps and hills covered with fog fill this wild land also bathed by the Indian Ocean. It is shared by the subjects of the always proud Zulu nation and one of the most prolific and diverse fauna on the African continent.
Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Yaks
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal,

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
The Little-Big Senglea II
Architecture & Design
Senglea, Malta

An Overcrowded Malta

At the turn of the 8.000th century, Senglea housed 0.2 inhabitants in 2 km3.000, a European record, today, it has “only” XNUMX neighborhood Christians. It is the smallest, most overcrowded and genuine of the Maltese cities.
Salto Angel, Rio that falls from the sky, Angel Falls, PN Canaima, Venezuela
Adventure
PN Canaima, Venezuela

Kerepakupai, Salto Angel: The River that Falls from Heaven

In 1937, Jimmy Angel landed a light aircraft on a plateau lost in the Venezuelan jungle. The American adventurer did not find gold but he conquered the baptism of the longest waterfall on the face of the Earth
The Crucifixion in Helsinki
Ceremonies and Festivities
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, Travel Korea, Color Maneuvers
Cities
Seul, South Korea

A Glimpse of Medieval Korea

Gyeongbokgung Palace stands guarded by guardians in silken robes. Together they form a symbol of South Korean identity. Without waiting for it, we ended up finding ourselves in the imperial era of these Asian places.
Meal
World Food

Gastronomy Without Borders or Prejudice

Each people, their recipes and delicacies. In certain cases, the same ones that delight entire nations repel many others. For those who travel the world, the most important ingredient is a very open mind.
Garranos gallop across the plateau above Castro Laboreiro, PN Peneda-Gerês, Portugal
Culture
Castro Laboreiro, Portugal  

From Castro de Laboreiro to the Rim of the Peneda – Gerês Range

We arrived at (i) the eminence of Galicia, at an altitude of 1000m and even more. Castro Laboreiro and the surrounding villages stand out against the granite monumentality of the mountains and the Planalto da Peneda and Laboreiro. As do its resilient people who, sometimes handed over to Brandas and sometimes to Inverneiras, still call these stunning places home.
Sport
Competitions

Man: an Ever Tested Species

It's in our genes. For the pleasure of participating, for titles, honor or money, competitions give meaning to the world. Some are more eccentric than others.
Chiang Khong to Luang Prabang, Laos, Through the Mekong Below
Traveling
Chiang Khong - Luang Prabang, , Laos

Slow Boat, Down the Mekong River

Laos' beauty and lower cost are good reasons to sail between Chiang Khong and Luang Prabang. But this long descent of the Mekong River can be as exhausting as it is picturesque.
Ethnic
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

The Pueblos del Sur Locainas, Their Dances and Co.

From the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with Hispanic settlers and, more recently, with Portuguese emigrants, customs and traditions well known in the Iberian Peninsula and, in particular, in northern Portugal, were consolidated in the Pueblos del Sur.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Nelson Dockyards, Antigua Docks,
History
English Harbor, Antigua

Nelson's Dockyard: The Former Naval Base and Abode of the Admiral

In the XNUMXth century, as the English disputed control of the Caribbean and the sugar trade with their colonial rivals, they took over the island of Antigua. There they came across a jagged cove they called English Harbour. They made it a strategic port that also housed the idolized naval officer.
Ribeira Grande, Santo Antao
Islands
Ribeira Grande, Santo AntãoCape Verde

Santo Antão, Up the Ribeira Grande

Originally a tiny village, Ribeira Grande followed the course of its history. It became the village, later the city. It has become an eccentric and unavoidable junction on the island of Santo Antão.
Correspondence verification
Winter White
Rovaniemi, Finland

From the Finnish Lapland to the Arctic. A Visit to the Land of Santa

Fed up with waiting for the bearded old man to descend down the chimney, we reverse the story. We took advantage of a trip to Finnish Lapland and passed through its furtive home.
Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
Literature
Saint Petersburg e Mikhaylovkoe, Russia

The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
António do Remanso, Quilombola Marimbus Community, Lençóis, Chapada Diamantina
Nature
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

The Swampy Freedom of Quilombo do Remanso

Runaway slaves have survived for centuries around a wetland in Chapada Diamantina. Today, the quilombo of Remanso is a symbol of their union and resistance, but also of the exclusion to which they were voted.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Autumn
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Tinquilco Lake in PN Huerquehue, Pucón, La Araucania, Chile
Natural Parks
Pucón, Chile

Among the Araucarias of La Araucania

At a certain latitude in longline Chile, we enter La Araucanía. This is a rugged Chile, full of volcanoes, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and the coniferous forests from which the region's name grew. And it is the heart of the pine nuts of the largest indigenous ethnic group in the country: the Mapuche.
Traveler above Jökursarlón icy lagoon, Iceland
UNESCO World Heritage
Jökursarlón Lagoon, Vatnajökull Glacier, Iceland

The Faltering of Europe's King Glacier

Only in Greenland and Antarctica are glaciers comparable to Vatnajökull, the supreme glacier of the old continent. And yet, even this colossus that gives more meaning to the term ice land is surrendering to the relentless siege of global warming.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Characters
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Dominican Republic, Bahia de Las Águilas Beach, Pedernales. Jaragua National Park, Beach
Beaches
Lagoa Oviedo a Bahia de las Águilas, Dominican Republic

In Search of the Immaculate Dominican Beach

Against all odds, one of the most unspoiled Dominican coastlines is also one of the most remote. Discovering the province of Pedernales, we are dazzled by the semi-desert Jaragua National Park and the Caribbean purity of Bahia de las Águilas.
Cape Espichel, Sanctuary of Senhora do Cabo, Sesimbra,
Religion
Albufeira Lagoon ao Cape Espichel, Sesimbra, Portugal

Pilgrimage to a Cape of Worship

From the top of its 134 meters high, Cabo Espichel reveals an Atlantic coast as dramatic as it is stunning. Departing from Lagoa de Albufeira to the north, golden coast below, we venture through more than 600 years of mystery, mysticism and veneration of its aparecida Nossa Senhora do Cabo.
Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
On Rails
Nesbyen to Flam offer, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Society
Dali, China

Chinese Style Flash Mob

The time is set and the place is known. When the music starts playing, a crowd follows the choreography harmoniously until time runs out and everyone returns to their lives.
Casario, uptown, Fianarantsoa, ​​Madagascar
Daily life
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

The Malagasy City of Good Education

Fianarantsoa was founded in 1831 by Ranavalona Iª, a queen of the then predominant Merina ethnic group. Ranavalona Iª was seen by European contemporaries as isolationist, tyrant and cruel. The monarch's reputation aside, when we enter it, its old southern capital remains as the academic, intellectual and religious center of Madagascar.
Ross Bridge, Tasmania, Australia
Wildlife
Discovering tassie, Part 3, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania from Top to Bottom

The favorite victim of Australian anecdotes has long been the Tasmania never lost the pride in the way aussie ruder to be. Tassie remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism in a kind of hindquarters of the antipodes. In this article, we narrate the peculiar route from Hobart, the capital located in the unlikely south of the island to the north coast, the turn to the Australian continent.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.
PT EN ES FR DE IT