How To Prevent Altitude Sickness – Symptoms, Causes Plus Diet?

How To Prevent Altitude Sickness – Symptoms, Causes Plus Diet?

Mountaineers do suffer from altitude sickness at times and others also do feel the same way and go in for hiking mountains or climb high altitudes. One wants relief no doubt.

What Is Altitude Sickness?

At high altitudes, one’s body may not get sufficient oxygen. This lack of oxygen does cause altitude sickness. It is more prominent in individuals who are not accustomed to such heights.

Altitude sickness should not be treated lightly as it can be rather unpredictable as well as dangerous.

Signs and Symptoms of High Altitude Sickness

The primary symptoms of altitude sickness are:

• Fatigue or weakness
• Insomnia
• Frequent headaches
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• An increased heart rate
• Shortness of breath

Some more severe symptoms are:

• Discoloration of the skin (skin may become blue, gray, or paler)
• Confusion and inability to think
• Constant coughing
• Unconsciousness or decreased consciousness
• Coughing up blood
• A tightness in the chest
• Unconsciousness or decreased consciousness
• Shortness of breath even at rest
• Inability to walk in a straight line

Types of Altitude Sickness

• Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

This is the very common form of altitude sickness, and one feels intoxicated.

• High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

This can lead to High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) in case it persists. This is a severe form of AMS, whereby one’s brain ends up swelling and also ceases to function normally. Other symptoms are drowsiness, irritability, confusion, and one facing trouble in walking.

• High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

This type of altitude sickness that happens is a progression of HACE, but it may also occur on its own. It is a result of an excess fluid build-up in one’s lungs, thereby disrupting their functioning. The symptoms of HAPE do include increased breathlessness, weakness, as well as severe coughing. HAPE must indeed be treated immediately, either by lowering altitude or taking supplementary oxygen, as it can otherwise lead to death.

Causes and Risk Factors for Altitude Sickness

When one’s body does not get accustomed to the higher altitudes, then one may immediately begin to show symptoms of altitude sickness. As the altitude does keep increasing, there is less oxygen available, and this does lead to altitude sickness.

Factors causing the higher risk of developing altitude sickness are:

• A history of altitude sickness
• Climbing more than 1600 feet per day
• Rapid ascending

One must go in for a proper diagnosis.

Home Remedies to Reverse Altitude Sickness

1. Vitamins

Antioxidants do help one breathe more easily at high altitudes. Nutrients like vitamins C and E can do wonders in this aspect as the two are antioxidants and can indeed enhance one’s immunity.
Foods that are rich in these vitamins do include citrus fruits, spinach, kale, papaya, almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds. If one wishes to take additional supplements for these vitamins, one may do so after having a word with one’s nutritionist or physician.

2. Coca Leaves

One Will Need

• A few coca leaves
• A little lime juice

What One Has To Do?

Mix a few coca leaves in the little bit of lime juice and then simply chew on them whenever one is ascending.

How Often One Need To Do This?

One must only do this during or prior to a hike or travel to an elevated area.

Why This Works?

Coca leaves are rather found to help during one’s exercise routine, even at higher altitudes. Their effect was indeed felt over a prolonged period, which does make them a great option for relieving symptoms of altitude sickness as well

3. Essential Oils

a. Peppermint Oil

One Will Need

• 3-4 drops of peppermint oil
• 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or any other carrier oil)

What One Has To Do?

1. Add three to four drops of peppermint oil to a teaspoon of any carrier oil and then mix well.
2. Apply this to the back of one’s neck as well as temples.
3. One can also add a few drops to a tissue or a handkerchief and then sniff it from time to time.

How Often Should You Do This?

One must do this as and when required, preferably soon after a climb.

Why This Works?

Peppermint oil does contain menthol that does make breathing easier. Altitude sickness often does make breathing a difficult task, which is why this remedy does wonder.

b. Lavender Oil

One Will Need

• 3 drops of lavender oil
• 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or any other carrier oil)

What One Has To Do?

1. Mix three drops of lavender oil with a teaspoon of any carrier oil.
2. Rub it on one’s temples and behind one’s neck.
3. One can also inhale the aroma of lavender essential oil for added benefits.

How Often Should One Do This?

One does this prior to or even while going to a higher altitude.

Why This Works?

Lavender oil does help calm one down by relieving headache as well as nausea that does accompany altitude sickness, which can be attributed to the powerful anti-inflammatory as well as analgesic properties of the oil.

4. Ginger

One Will Need

• A few slices of chopped ginger
• Ginger candy or tea (optional)

What One Has To Do?

1. Chew on small pieces of chopped ginger while going to an elevated altitude.
2. Alternatively, one can also suck on ginger candies or even drink ginger tea whenever one feels uneasy.

How Often Should You Do This?

Begin this treatment before the onset of the symptoms as a preventive measure or even after the symptoms start to surface.

Why This Works?

Ginger is widely used to relieve symptoms of nausea as well as vomiting during pregnancy, both of which also do surface with altitude sickness. This can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Garlic

One Will Need

2-3 garlic cloves

What You Have To Do?

Chew on small bits of garlic cloves as one begins ascending.

How Often Should You Do This?

One must do this as and when required during one’s travel.

Why This Works?

Garlic is found to cause blood thinning due to its anti-platelet properties. Although this can prove fatal during a surgery or other such circumstances, it is very useful for treating altitude sickness. At high altitudes, your blood flow is often reduced, and garlic can help restore normal blood circulation.

6. Pickle Juice

One Will Need:

A small bottle of pickle juice

What One Has To Do?

Sip on a little pickle juice as one makes the ascent.

How Often Should One Do This?

One must do this only when one travels to higher altitudes.

Why This Works?

Pickle juice contains plenty of electrolytes as well as minerals such as potassium and sodium. Since one tends to get dehydrated at higher altitudes, sipping on some pickle juice can rather help restore the lost electrolytes and also prevent altitude sickness altogether.

7. Lemon Juice

One Will Need

• ½ lemon
• 1 glass of water
• A pinch of salt

What One Has To Do?

1. Squeeze out the juice from half a lemon and mix it with a glass of water.
2. Add a pinch of salt to it and then sip on this solution while traveling to higher altitudes.

How Often One Needs To Do This?

One needs to whenever one fears the onset of altitude sickness.

Why This Works?

Nausea, as well as vomiting, are some of the basic symptoms of altitude sickness that make one feel quite uneasy. Drinking lemon juice or even simply sucking on a cut lemon piece can indeed help relieve these symptoms almost instantly.

Best Foods to Eat for Preventing Altitude Sickness

Here is a list of carbohydrate-rich foods that can help prevent altitude sickness and even cut the risk:

• Energy bars
• Oatmeal with raisins
• Whole wheat pancakes or waffles
• Sandwiches low in fat
• Sports drink
• Rice
• Pasta

Also, you must avoid fatty foods like pizza, French fries, etc.
One must not take altitude sickness lightly.

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About the Author: Danteshwari Bhaskar

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