GUIDELINES FOR ACCLIMATIZATION AND OTHER MEDICAL PROBLEM
The pleasures of trekking in Ladakh situated at 9000 ft to 25170 feet above sea level and one of the high altitude regions of the world cannot be overstated. Neither can the dangers. Staying healthy during your treks and jeeps safari tours is of utmost importance as the altitude sickness can occur in some people at the region as low as 8,000 feet, but serious symptoms do not usually occur until over 12,000 feet. Even then it is not the just height that is important, rather the speed in which you ascended to that altitude.
General belief is that Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is actually more common in aged people however the truth is that it usually occurs among fit young men because they are more likely to attempt a rapid ascent by racing up the mountain like some indestructible super hero! As a general rule, it is far safer (and more enjoyable) to avoid altitude sickness by planning a sensible itinerary that allows for gradual acclimatisation to altitude as you ascend.
Anyone with heart, lung and blood pressure abnormalities or a continuing medical condition should have a check-up and get a medical opinion before setting off. To make your tours pleasant and wonderful, we highly recommend you to rest for acclimatization before start your treks and Jeep safari tours especially when you have flown down to by aero plane.
FOR JEEP SAFARI TOURS
For jeep safari tours, first couple of days is very necessary to acclimatize, first day we recommend a complete rest at Hotel, followed by light acclimatization's sightseeing around Leh, main town of Ladakh, on the next day. Third day onward we are ready to start your tours.
For trekking in Ladakh you have to remember that you are trekking in one of the hostile and high altitude region of the world with tough terrain. Therefore we highly recommend you to rest at least three or four days, at Leh, and enjoy light acclimatization sightseeing tours around Leh.
Primary symptoms at altitude
Don't expect to feel perfect at altitudes of more than 3000m. These are the normal altitude symptoms that you should expect but not worry about. Every trekker will experience some or all of these, no matter how slowly they ascend. Headaches are the primary symptom used to diagnose altitude sickness, although a headache is also a symptom of dehydration. A headache occurring at an altitude above 2,400 metres (8,000 feet) combined with any one or more of the following symptoms, may indicate altitude sickness:
- Lack of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
- Fatigue or weakness
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath upon exertion
- Persistent rapid pulse
- Peripheral edema (swelling of hands, feet, and face).
- Persistent, severe headache and fever
- Persistent vomiting
- Ataxia - loss of co-ordination, cannot walk in a straight line, looks drunk
- Losing consciousness - cannot stay awake or understand things very well
- Liquid sounds in the lungs
- Persistent dry cough
- Rapid breathing or feeling breathless at rest
- Coughing blood or pink goo or lots of clear fluid
- Marked blueness of face and lips
- High resting heart beat - over 120 beats per minute
- Severe lethargy and drowsiness
- Mild symptoms rapidly getting worse
- Ascending slowly is the best way to avoid altitude sickness
- Avoiding strenuous activity such as skiing, hiking, etc. in the first 24 hours at high altitude reduces the symptoms of AMS. Take it easy and don't overexert yourself when you first get up to altitude. But, light activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
- As alcohol tends to cause dehydration, which exacerbates AMS, avoiding alcohol consumption in the first 24-hours at a higher altitude is optimal.
- Avoid tobacco and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquillisers, sleeping pills and opiates such as dihydrocodeine. These further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of symptoms.
- Eat a high calorie diet while at altitude.
- Stay properly hydrated. Acclimatisation is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least four to six litres per day). Urine output should be copious and clear to pale yellow.
OTHER MEDICAL PROBLEMS TO BE TAKEN CARE OF
- Drinking Water
All the water in the streams and rivers of Ladakh is contaminated to some degree and therefore not safe to drink without purifying it. While camping our cook will boiled the water very well at evening and refill your water bottle in the morning. Sometimes you may want to purify water yourself, the most convenient methods is Iodine tablets.
This is a common problem in developing countries. In normal circumstances when you get diarrhea you visit a doctor and they conduct some tests. This is the best way to make an accurate diagnosis. However, while trekking obviously this is impossible so you may have to be your own doctor if there is no real doctor close by.
First, diarrhea will not normally kill you so urgent treatment is not necessary or always recommended. Many people over-react and start taking drugs at the first loose stool. Instead wait a few days and see what happens.