Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, also called acute mountain sickness (AMS), happens when travelers or trekkers ascend too quickly to a high altitude. The oxygen level at higher altitudes is low, and this causes some symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. This is a guide for you to know what altitude sickness is, what symptoms it has, and how to minimize the risk of high altitude to make trekking safe and fun.

What are the causes of altitude sickness?

When your body cannot adapt to the lower oxygen levels at high elevation, altitude sickness starts to occur at that time. It is known that mountain sickness occurs above 2,500 meters (8,000 feet). There are various factors that cause elevation sickness.

What are the symptoms of altitude sickness?

There are various common symptoms that can be observed during altitude sickness, such as:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Short Breathe
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty while sleeping

In a few extreme cases, altitude sickness can also lead to life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment.

How do I avoid or minimize altitude sickness?

Gradual Ascent

Ascending slowly and gradually at a high elevation is one of the best ways to minimize altitude sickness. You should give proper time to your body so that it can acclimate to higher altitudes. You should start your trek slowly once you reach 2500 meters. If you need to trek more rapidly, you should get proper rest at a lower altitude for body acclimatization.

Stay Hydrated

You should stay hydrated. As you ascend at high elevation, your body starts getting dehydrated due to heavy sweating. So, proper hydration is the best way to prevent altitude sickness. You should drink plenty of fluids and water to stay hydrated. You should avoid alcohol and caffeine intake, as they can lead your body to dehydration. You should also avoid smoking, as it can cause problems with your breathing.

Have light, nutritious meals.

You can help your body cope somehow with the high altitude by eating a light but nutritious diet. You should focus on having balanced diets that are rich in carbohydrates, as they require less oxygen for digestion as compared to other diets that have fats and proteins. You can have garlic soup to minimize the risk.


There are a few medications that can help avoid altitude sickness. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before you take any medication, as they can provide personalized medication for avoiding high-altitude sickness.

Avoid Overexertion

You should do light exercise before going on a long trek, but it is not recommended to overexert yourself during the starting days at high altitude. You should walk slowly and easily to give your body some adjustment with elevation. Remember that overexertion can lead to the risk of altitude sickness.

Analyze Symptoms

You should analyze the symptoms you are having while ascending at high elevation. If you start observing some sort of symptom of altitude sickness, take a rest there. Resting can often minimize mild symptoms, but if necessary, you should descend to a lower altitude. Do not ignore it if you start to have mild symptoms. In a few cases, you may require medical treatment if the symptoms get severe.

Acclimatization Days

You can add acclimatization days to your itinerary. You can take a rest at lower altitudes to give your body an adjustment before you start ascending to higher altitudes. This can help you to avoid the risk of altitude sickness.

Don’t trek alone.

It is better if you go on a trek with a group of your friends, or you can hire a professional guide for that. A professional guide can help you with your hassle. If you ever analyze the symptoms of altitude sickness, you can have someone look after you and do the needful.


At high altitude, travelers can face the challenge of altitude sickness. Just don’t panic if you get symptoms of altitude sickness and listen to your guide or apply the above things to you. High-altitude mountain sickness can be minimized and prevented in a proper way. Follow the strategies for avoiding it to make your adventure in the mountains safe and enjoyable. Make sure to consult with a healthcare provider before your trip for personalized medication, if necessary.