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Altitude Acclimatization

Altitude acclimatization process takes time. Failure to adequately acclimate may result in sickness and severe issues. This adaptation to the reduced oxygen levels at high altitude is unique to each individual. Acclimatization refers to matching the rate at which your body adapts to the rate at which you ascend. There are no fixed rules for altitude acclimatization, but here are some suggestions that may help in the process.

What occurs when you aren’t acclimatized is known as altitude sickness. Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS, High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema HAPE, and High-Altitude Cerebral Edema HACE are the three types of altitude sickness. Any of these three diseases may affect any mountaineer regardless of their lifestyle and fitness levels. The only way to get rid of it is to lower your elevation. Fitness, other health issues, level of hydration, altitude at which you reside, and how hard you push yourself physically are all variables that influence acclimatization.

  • Acute Mountain Sickness is the least severe but also most common type which mostly feels like a severe headache.
  • High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema is the second most common and a serious medical condition in which the lungs fill with fluid, and it is extremely dangerous.
  • High-Altitude Cerebral Edema is the rarest and most serious medical condition in which the brain swells and the person loses coordination. This condition would be fatal without immediate treatment


  1. The best approach to altitude acclimatization is to do it naturally, by going slow and steady.
  2. When it comes to getting higher, be patient and take it slowly. Climbers throw themselves into danger when they push themselves too hard and too quickly.
  3. Once you’ve reached higher altitudes, a reasonable rule of thumb is to climb 2500 feet each day. This might involve climbing up 2500 feet, resting here, and then going higher.
  4. If you get symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness, wait until the symptoms subside before going higher. Go down if they aren’t resolving.
  5. If you keep climbing, AMS may develop into High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema, which is both uncomfortable and potentially fatal. It’s difficult to assist oneself after you’ve developed HAPE; you’ll need the support of competent and experienced mountain guides to save your life.
  6. Immediate descent, coupled with supplementary oxygen and dexamethasone, is the best treatment.
  7. Following the adage “climb high, sleep low,” sleep at increasingly greater elevations. After climbing at 16,000 feet, sleeping at 14,000 feet may help with acclimatization. A distance of 1,000 to 3,000 feet is suggested.
  8. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink 3 to 4 liters of water each day. Drink water every 30 minutes while exercising. To aid in the absorption of water and the maintenance of sodium levels, take an electrolyte supplement.
  9. Once you are at higher altitudes, stay away from alcohol and hard exercise.
  10. Acetazolamide (Diamox) accelerates acclimatization and avoids AMS and High-Altitude Cerebral Edema. This medication needs a prescription and should be obtained from your doctor.

Why do we suffer from altitude sickness?
The air becomes thinner as one ascends, and less oxygen is accessible. Though the proportion of oxygen in each lungful stays constant, the quantity of oxygen molecules accessible in each lungful decreases due to lower air pressure. Because most of us live between sea level and several thousand feet in height, it’s no wonder that altitudes over 8000 feet are considered troublesome. When calculating how much time you’ll spend acclimating, keep in mind your current elevation.

How to deal with Acute Mountain Sickness?
The main symptom of AMS is a constant or throbbing headache. Nausea, vomiting, tiredness, lethargy, lack of appetite, and trouble sleeping are all symptoms. AMS typically resolves itself after two days if one relaxes and does not go any further. Stay at the same altitude and rest if you have AMS, or descend to a lower elevation. Resting at the same elevation may sometimes help, even allowing you to continue ascending. It’s a good idea to take a few days off and then start climbing. For headaches, get plenty of rest and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Take acetazolamide or Diamox as recommended if prescribed by your doctor. It helps to reduce AMS symptoms by speeding up the acclimatization process. Before you head out for any extreme adventure, see your doctor and get any prescriptions or medications you may need.

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