• Himalayan Eco-Culture Treks & Research Expeditions
Yala Peak 2104 - Himalayan Eco-Culture Treks and Research Expeditions

Altitude Sickness Information

Human beings need oxygen to obtain energy to fuel all our living processes. Though vital for the living and growing of all living beings, there is only 21 percent oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen chart as per altitude:

AltitudeOxygen LevelAltitude Category
0ft / 0m20.9%Low
4000ft / 1219m17.9%Moderate
8000ft / 2438m15.4%High Altitude
11000ft / 3353m13.7%High Altitude
13000ft / 3962m12.7%Very High Altitude
15000ft / 4572m11.8%Very High Altitude
17000ft / 5182m11.0%Very High Altitude
20000ft / 6096m9.7%Extreme High Altitude
23000ft / 7010m8.7%Extreme High Altitude
26000ft / 7925m7.8%Ultra-High Altitude
29000ft / 8839m6.9%Ultra-High Altitude

Altitude Sickness:

As we ascend from lower altitude to higher, the presence of oxygen decreases. The body cannot get enough oxygen for energy production with a significant drop. But our body’s coping mechanisms try to adjust to the atmosphere. It Increases the red blood cell production (red blood carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body), decreases the binding affinity of hemoglobin (Hemoglobin needs oxygen for the binding process), and increases the breathing rate. When all this process also doesn’t make up for the decreases in oxygen intake, our body begins to struggle. The struggle channels through many symptoms, degrading the body conditions and causing a fatality known as ALTITUDE SICKNESS.

  1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): Mildest form of altitude sickness that is common in high altitudes. Headache, dizziness, body ache, and nausea are the symptoms.
  2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): It’s a condition where fluids are buildup in the lungs, leading to serious health problems and even death. Its symptoms are tightness in the chest, shortness of breath even during rest, persistent coughing with sputum, and blue coloration in lips and skin.
  3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): It’s a severe condition where fluids are buildup in the brain. Its symptoms follow fever, confusion, rapid heartbeat, ataxia, photophobia, altered mental state, and lassitude.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Insomnia

How to prevent yourself from Altitude Sickness?

Altitude sickness can be fatal, but with the proper precautions and discipline, we can avoid it:

  1. Acclimatize: Ascend gradually, allowing your body time to adjust to the altitude. It’s recommended not to ascend more than 300-500 meters (1,000-1,500 feet) per day once above 2,500 meters (8,000 feet). Take rest days to acclimatize every 2-3 days when ascending.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration.
  3. Medication: Consider taking acetazolamide (Diamox) under the guidance of a healthcare professional. This medication can help prevent altitude sickness by speeding up acclimatization. However, it should not be considered a substitute for proper acclimatization.
  4. Avoid Overexertion: Pace yourself and avoid overexertion, especially in the first few days at higher altitudes.
  5. Eat Light and Carbohydrate-Rich Meals: Consume easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich meals. Avoid heavy, fatty foods that can be harder to digest at altitude.
  6. Be Aware of Symptoms: Pay attention to how you’re feeling and be aware of symptoms of altitude sickness. If you experience symptoms, descend to a lower altitude immediately.
  7. Seek Medical Help if Needed: If symptoms of altitude sickness persist or worsen, descend to a lower altitude and seek medical help. In severe cases, evacuation to a lower altitude may be necessary.
  8. Know When to Turn Back: Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. It’s important to know when to turn back or descend if you or someone in your group is experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness.

We follow the international guideline for high altitude trekking to avoid the fatal altitude sickness, so besides the prevention, we strongly suggest our client to:

  • Listen to your guide: They are experts in Himalayan trekking, so carefully follow their instructions during the trek.
  • Share your condition: Many trekkers disregard symptoms like headache, diarrhea, and nausea, which can be symptoms of altitude sickness. The difference can be very subtle from the normal ones, but if you share those with your guide and expert, they could administer you properly to understand your conditions.
  • Take acclimatization rest: While planning a trip, try to avoid shortening days by skipping acclimatization rest days. They are designed to ensure your body gets a fair chance to recuperate from the high-altitude atmosphere. So hike to higher points and descend to lower camp for resting. One day after reaching 3500 meters and one day after 4500m is the standard acclimatizing point in the Himalayas.
  • Limit your ascend: After crossing the 3500m point, we will only climb 500 to 600m. So rather than the distance covered, our trek will be limited by the altitude gained from our previous camp.

What to do after gaining the symptom of Altitude Sickness?

The common symptoms during the trek are headaches, loss of appetite, and tiredness. Your trekking guides are experts in the field and will regularly evaluate your conditions. In case you suffer from altitude sickness, we can follow the following treatments:

  • If it’s a mild symptom, we can decrease our walking speed and change the camp lower than our original plan.
  • We can also take an extra day’s rest in the same camp to see whether our conditions will subside or escalates.
  • We can increase our food intake the boost energy. Also, adding garlic to the diet is the most popular remedy for altitude sickness. We can also consume a lot of carbs and potassium-enriched food and decrease sodium intake.
  • We can start the Paracetamol (headache), Ibuprofen(body ache), and Loperamide(diarrhea) from the start of the symptom. Still, we will only administer Acetazolamide or Dexamethasone (altitude medication) for seriously frail trekkers.
  • If the condition is severe, we can use oxygen and start to climb down by canceling the trip.
  • In the acute situation, emergency rescue will be possible by helicopter that will take us to the nearest health center for medical attention.


Hence, lastly for every Traveler and trekker we would like to suggest to choose trekking company for the purpose of safety and better experience for the trek. Choosing a company would prevent a disasters situation on going trek.

#stay healthy, safe travel and enjoy a lot, is our company motto.