Altitude Sickness on the Everest Base Camp Trek 

Everest Guide

Altitude Sickness is a disorder that is caused due to rapid ascend during trekking. Altitude Sickness on the Everest Base Camp Trek When traveling to high altitude, your body needs time to acclimate to the surrounding temperature, pressure, and reduced oxygen level. If not, you will face several consequences of altitude sickness, known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

Everest Base Camp stands tall at an altitude of 5,364 meters above sea level. Many people are most likely to suffer from altitude sickness if proper precautions are not taken beforehand. Vomiting, headache, insomnia, rapid pulse, extreme dehydration, and reduced performance and coordination are the common symptoms of altitude sickness. 

You will start your journey from Kathmandu at 1400m and fly directly to Lukla at 2800m. Your trek begins from there and soon you will be above 3500m above sea level. In a short period, your body needs to adapt to new climate and pressure levels. So, it is very important to ascend slowly and acclimate yourself. 

The journey to Everest Base Camp provides a mesmerizing view of Lhotse, Pumori, Nuptse, Lobuche, and the mighty Mt.Everest itself. Although the trek is difficult, the breathtaking views of the mountains, hills, farms, and lush forests will motivate you to continue. 

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

What can be the symptoms of altitude sickness? One must know the common symptoms that are shown when traveling to high altitudes. It will help you realize that you are facing a certain defect and need to rest or acclimate yourself. Some common symptoms are:

  • Insomnia
  • Appetite loss
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • A drop in performance
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting 

In a worst-case scenario, altitude sickness affects the lungs, commonly referred to as high altitude pulmonary edema or HAPE. Individuals who have HAPE may have breathing difficulties and palpitations, and their lips get blue. It can also cause fluid to build up in your brain, a condition known as high altitude cerebral edema, or HACE. Confusion and irritability are common symptoms. 

Preventing Altitude Sickness on Everest Base Camp Trek 

Several precautions should be taken while trekking to Everest Base Camp to reduce the risk of altitude sickness. The most important thing is to ascend slowly and steadily. Some preventive measures are listed below:

  • After passing 3,000 meters, you should ascend at most 500 meters every day.
  • Increase the amount of liquids you consume. Up to seven liters can be required daily.
  • Remember to include any prescription medications in your first aid kit.
  • Refraining from intense physical activity before your body acclimates to reduced oxygen saturation levels.
  • Ascend only with qualified guides.
  • Better not to use sleeping drugs because they depress the central nervous system, which can aggravate hypoxia.
  • Avoid Alcohol, Cigarettes & Tobacco.

Furthermore, it is simpler for the body to acclimate to a lower altitude when you are asleep. So you always make sure to sleep in teahouses that are lower in altitude than the ones you have been strolling that day. You can factor in at least two days for acclimatization throughout the journey. This is because it enables your body to adapt to the altitude. 

Generally, most people acclimate at Namche Bazaar (3,440 m) and Dingboche (4,410 m). You should not push your body to perform extra physical activities during this period. You can stroll around the villages and dwell among the locals of Namche. It is a good opportunity to learn about Sherpa culture and tradition.

Similarly, you can take a rest day at Dingboche (4410m). Taking a day break ensures that you are well adapted to the oxygen level and atmospheric pressure. You can go for a short hike and explore the locals living there. This way, you are most likely to prevent altitude sickness. 

Altitude Sickness- First Aid

Here are some first-aid recommendations in case one of your party members exhibits symptoms of altitude sickness:

  • Stay at the same altitude or go lower until the symptoms disappear.
  • Avoid any consumption of alcohol and cigarettes as it decreases the water level in your body and makes your heart slow and lethargic.
  • Avoid using sleeping medications or sedatives as they can hinder the body’s ability to adjust to high altitudes.
  • Using a portable oxygen cylinder, administer oxygen.
  • Every few minutes, encourage them to take a deep breath to lower the amount of carbon dioxide in their blood.
  • To lessen the chance of fluid buildup, give them diuretic medications, which increase the production of urine.

Getting Ready

You will need a will and a strong determination to reach the base camp. Altitude sickness is unpredictable. Some people are strongly affected by the altitude, and some are not. It depends upon your physical fitness and ability to adapt to new surroundings and atmosphere. 

People who exercise regularly and have good cardiovascular fitness are immune to altitude sickness. So, before you start on your journey, make sure to train your body as much as possible. However, with all these qualities, some are still victims of altitude and its sickness. That’s why it is also important to prepare yourself mentally. 

One of the most crucial requirements to reach Everest Base Camp is mental toughness; therefore, be mentally prepared for a challenge. You should be motivated and determined to walk and never give up. Because when you are physically exhausted, all you need is the power of your subconscious mind that can push you forward and upward.  

Altitude Sickness on the Everest Base Camp Trek 

Final Say

Trekking to Everest Base Camp is only some people’s cup of tea. It’s always difficult when you are ascending to a higher altitude. Many of us may not be familiar with living and walking in a high terrain where oxygen levels are low. This may result in altitude sickness. 

The key to avoiding sickness symptoms is to walk slowly and steadily. You should not get extremely excited and burn all your energy at once. Walk constantly and only take a rest at the designated stops. If you get symptoms of altitude sickness, you should immediately take necessary actions. 

Thus, the stunning views of soaring mountains, farms, and forests will motivate you to press on. The journey to Everest Base Camp will forever remain in your memory, and this trip will become something you can brag about.

Written by

Pravin Baniya

Pravin Baniya is a licensed local guide and a travel guide with a specialty in Everest Base Camp Trek. He has 10+ years of experience and is expert about the Everest region. As a guide, he has helped many travelers navigate the challenging terrain and provided them with valuable insights about the Everest Region.

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