Everest Base Camp Altitude Sickness

  • Last Updated on Dec 9, 2022

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While trekking the high-altitude trek like Everest Base Camp trek, you must be concerned about the sets of challenges that comes alongside it. The Everest Base Camp Altitude Sickness is the most challenging aspects of trekking in the Himalayan foothills of Everest region.

You might be wondering what exactly is Altitude Sickness? Simply Altitude Sickness is the acute sickness resulted by rapid ascent to higher altitude.

As the altitude rises during Everest Base Camp trek, there is significant reduction of oxygen level. Moreover, the atmosphere pressure also experience reduction as a result. Anyway, some of the early symptoms of altitude sickness are difficulty in breathing, dizziness, loss of appetite etc.

Altitude Sickness at higher elevations can turn out to be life threatening if not treated properly on time. The level altitude sickness ranges from mild to fatal. Everest Base Camp trek altitude sickness is a threat to all trekkers regardless of their ages or gender, physical fitness. Nevertheless, the possibility of getting altitude sickness is more if you don’t rest acclimatize properly.

But this doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy the Everest Base Camp any further. Stop your trek and descend as soon as you observe the signs of altitude sickness. Don’t proceed further until the symptom disappears.

Please follow the vital instructions given by professional guides and take essential precautions to have a greatest adventure of your life.

Types of Altitude Sickness

The altitude sickness and its effects differ from person to person and depend upon various factors, especially genetic makeup. Based upon the symptom and their severances, the altitude sickness is three different types and they are here under.

AMS (Acute Motion Sickness)

AMS is a mild form of altitude sickness resulted by the rapid ascent to high altitude. Dizziness, nausea and vomiting, severe headache are some of the first stage signs of AMS

HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is a result of fluid accumulation in the lungs of people. This is due to rapid ascent to high altitude (above 2,500m)

HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema)

In HACE, fluid gets accumulated in the brain of people. People suffering from AMS are more prone to it. It is the most severe form of altitude sickness and can be fatal if not treated immediately.

Acclimatization for Everest Base Camp Altitude Sickness

Acclimatization is essential aspect during high altitude trek. During acclimatization, your body not only adapts to lower oxygen level but also adjusts well to the freezing temperatures and lower air pressure. Trekkers during Everest Base Camp trek acclimatize at the commercial town of Namche (3,440 m) for a day.

There are numbers of acclimatization points including hike to Kunde, Sherpa museum, Syangboche airstrip etc and so on. At the meantime, you can witness the beautiful mountain vistas while acclimatizing around. Namche is the last acclimatization point before arriving at higher elevation.

Acclimatizing in Namche is significant to combat altitude sickness. Trekkers usually acclimatize at Dingboche (4440m) for the second time in trek. It is advisable to acclimatize on every 1000m gain in altitude. Acclimatization means your lungs will get enough time to adjust to the thinner air.

Hence, this process is key to prevent the Everest Base Camp trek altitude sickness.

Essential Tips to prevent Everest Base Camp altitude sickness

Maintain a rather gentle pace

Maintaining a gentle but steady pace is significant for a successful trek in the Everest region. This way, you can be safe from fatal altitude sickness. The trails of the Everest Base Camp short trek are rather harsh and steeply. Thus, unfurl speed will provide you enough strength for trekking in such trails.

You should not rush your walks as it is found that such high pace increases the possibility of altitude sickness. The breathing rates increases significantly and makes your body restless and brings shortness of breath

Furthermore, you won’t have enough time to come up with the changing environment. As a result, your body’s oxygen level drops down and make you dehydrate which in turn creates altitude sickness. Therefore, it is vital to maintain a gentle but steady pace throughout the trek.

Consume plenty of carbohydrates

It is not often we are told to consume extra amount of carbohydrates. However, when you are at the higher altitude, you extra calories. Thus, pack plenty of healthy snacks including lots of whole grains during Everest Base Camp Kala Pathar trek.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol, cigarettes and medications such as sleeping pills are supposed to make altitude sickness symptoms worse. Avoid drinking, smoking or taking sleeping pills during your high-altitude trek. However, if you won’t to have a drink, wait at least 48 hours to give your body enough time to adjust before consuming alcohol.

Drink plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is significant is preventing altitude sickness. Therefore, you must drink water regularly during your climb.

Sleep lower

Generally, altitude sickness gets worse at night when you are sleeping, it is a good idea to do a hike during the day and then return to a lower altitude to sleep, especially if you plan on hiking more than 1,000ft per day

Medication

Taking Acetazolamide, (former brand name of Diamox) two days prior to your trip and during the trip can help prevent altitude sickness. You must have a prescription from your doctor to get it.

However, once you start having symptoms, these, Medication won’t reduce them. Getting yourself to lower altitude is only effective treatment in such cases.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

Symptoms usually range from mild to medical emergency. Before travelling to a higher altitude, you must have knowledge about these symptoms. This way helps you prevent altitude sickness before it becomes fatal.

Mild Symptoms include

  • Headache, nausea, dizziness
  • Felling exhausted
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Trouble sleeping

In case if you develop mild altitude sickness, you should stop trekking any further and return to a lower elevation level. These symptoms usually disappear on their own when you descend to lower altitude.

Severe Symptoms include

Simply, more intense versions of mild symptoms

  • Feeling out of breathe, even when you are resting
  • continuous coughing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Double vision
  • Trouble walking
  • Skin turns into grey, blue or paler than normal

If you notice any of these symptoms get down to lower altitude as soon as possible, and seek medical attention. Severe altitude sickness can result in accumulation fluid in the lungs and brain, which can be fatal if left untreated.

Bottom Line

It is hard to make any exact predictions on how your body will react to high altitude because everyone differs. Your best defense against altitude sickness is steady climb, as well as to be prepared by practicing the tips above.

If you have any existing medical conditions like heart problems, shortness of breath, or diabetes, consult your doctor prior to travelling to high altitude Everest Base Camp Trek. This condition may lead to additional complications if you get altitude sickness during your trek.

Suman Aryal

Suman Aryal

Suman Aryal is Travel and Tour operator in the Himalaya since long. He organizes tours, trekking, hiking and climbing in Nepal. He loves writing related to travel and trekking in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.