Mountains Treks

A Guide to AMS

Nagtibba Trek - JustWravel
Mohit Agarwal
Written by Mohit Agarwal

Are you an avid traveler who loves to hike up the mountains, to breath in the purest form of air at sky touching altitude? Do you crave for places like Leh or Spiti or wish to conquer the most treacherous treks like the Zanskar Frozen River trek…Well, if you said yes to any one of the above then this is something you can’t afford to not know about. This article will walk you through Acute Mountain Sickness aka AMS as to what it is, its symptoms and how you can prep your body to be safe. Now before moving further let’s talks about what is AMS?

What is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

Have you ever been to a place situated at high altitudes? If yes then you must have experienced that your heart starts pumping faster and your breathing rate is increased. You feel like you are unable to breathe normally…That’s what AMS is and it gets persistent especially as the altitude rises above 8000 ft. Wondering as to why people undergo AMS? Let’s continue with it…

Why Acute Mountain Sickness?

The condition of AMS is something that exists naturally…You must have read in school that with the rising altitude the air becomes thinner and thinner. With this rise in altitude, the oxygen level reduces and our body starts feeling short of air supply causing several major and minor health issues. The problem of AMS affects significantly when there is a sudden increment in height and our body is not acclimatized to the environment. But, if proper care is taken the risks can be mitigated and for that let us know the symptoms associated with AMS first.

What are the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness?

Now you must be wondering what symptoms would be felt so that it can be taken care of before the situation slips out of hand. Here’s a brief list that covers most of the symptoms of AMS and if you feel having any of those then don’t push yourself and take appropriate care.

  • A headache
  • Dizziness
  • Crumbling Muscles
  • Loss or Disordered Appetite
  • Swelling Hands, Feet, and Face
  • Irritation
  • Nausea or feeling to Vomit
  • Faster Heartbeat
  • Running Out of Breath or Forceful Breathing

Make sure not to take these symptoms lightly and if required descend the altitude until you feel comfortable. Taking these symptoms lightly can cause the situation may get even more adverse. Left alone the above-mentioned symptoms, if you feel something like this-

  • A severe cough accompanied by Blood may be irregular
  • Chronic Chest Pain followed by Chest Congestion
  • Discoloration of Skin; Mostly Pale in Appearance
  • Inability to Walk or Maintain Balance of Body
  • Unwilling to indulge in Social Interaction
  • Loss of ability to Make Decision
  • Feeling Lethargic
  • Being Unconscious …

THEN, the situation has gotten even worse as you are showing symptoms of SEVERE Acute Mountain Sickness.

  • NOTE: Being ignorant of the above-mentioned symptoms can result in ataxia or losing the overall control of the body

How to Treat Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

  • Get Acclimatised

The first and most crucial thing while you are going to a high altitude destination is to acclimatize yourself with the surroundings. Try not to gain a sudden height at one go and divide your trip into parts. Also, make sure to spend your night at the nearest low altitude spot if possible because as the temperature falls at night the risk of AMS increases.

  • Maintain Body Temperature

Keep your body warm as much as possible and opt for wearing multiple thin layers of clothes rather than single thick warmer.

  • Eat Regularly

Untimely and unhealthy appetite is a strict no…Timely consumption of food makes gives the body the energy it requires and also assists in maintaining body temperature if the diet is carefully selected. Go for choices like hot soup, eggs or anything that keeps you warm and avoid alcohol.

  • Keep Yourself Hydrated

Staying hydrated works the most in reducing the risks of AMS as it helps on maintain the body oxygen level. So make sure you carry enough drinking water to intake at short intervals.

  • Hike Gradually

This is something you can do regularly much before your trip. It helps in improving your breathing and lungs can take in much more oxygen in a single inhale.

Besides all above, the other basic recommendations include consulting a physician, having medicines and oxygen cylinders at your disposal, open to your group members and most importantly stay calm and relaxed.

That’s all folks! Now you know all that is needed to have a well-informed itinerary for your next adventure…Plan your halts accordingly, fill in your trunk with lots of food and water and make lots of space to fit in new memories from the trip.

About the author

Mohit Agarwal

Mohit Agarwal

A traveler, a blogger but before that an engineer that builds the world we live in- A Civil Engineer.Travel is love, photography is passion and the result is JauntingJourneys.com

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