High altitude sickness or mountain sickness or acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a common problem in a high altitude place like Tibet. When you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa you will ascend from height of 1300m to 3650m/ in this altitude the amount of oxygen is pretty low, the atmospheric pressure in low too and your body responds to these condition- this condition is called high altitude sickness. Most of the visitors visiting first time to Tibet are worried by this high altitude sickness due the lack of the knowledge that their body takes measures to survive in the low amount of oxygen and low atmospheric pressure. Acclimatization of body to the high altitude can take from just a few hours to few days.
Symptoms tend to be worse at night and include headache, dizziness, and lethargy, loss of appetite, nausea, breathlessness and irritability. Difficulty sleeping is another common symptom, and many travelers have trouble sleeping for the first few days after arriving in Lhasa.
There are three main types of altitude sickness:
1. High-altitude pulmonary edema (also called HAPE), which affects the lungs
2. High-altitude cerebral edema (also called HACE), which affects the brain
High altitude sickness can be pretty serious, but they can be cured too.
To prevent acute mountain sickness:
Drink extra fluids. The mountain air is dry and cold and moisture is lost as you breathe. Evaporation of sweat may occur unnoticed and result in dehydration.
Eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy.
Avoid alcohol as it may increase the risk of dehydration, and don\'t smoke.
Don\'t push yourself when climbing up to passes, rather take plenty of breaks.
Avoid catching cold before you entering Tibet.
Medicines used for high altitude sickness
Medicines that may be used to prevent or treat the symptoms of severe high-altitude illness include acetazolamide (brand names: Diamox, Dazamide), dexamethasone (brand name: Decadron) and nifedipine (brand names: Adalat, Nifedical, Procardia).
Who should be extra careful?
Children: Children’s bodies are not fully developed and will have a hard time facing the low oxygen count and atmospheric pressure. Parents or guardians should be extra careful about their children while visiting Tibet.
People with heart and lungs disease: people with heart and lungs disease are urged to be extra careful about their health condition when it comes to High altitude sickness. If not taken care carefully high altitude sickness can be fatal to the patients.
There is not a clear picture and recommendations for pregnant women if they should travel to high altitude or not. Some say its safe and other disagree on this point. Doctors say that it’s okay to travel to the high altitude and high altitude sickness will not effect to a fit women even if she is pregnant.
NOTE: Don\'t ignore signs of high-altitude illness. People can die of this if they don\'t recognize the signs or if they don\'t believe their illness is caused by the high altitude. When you have signs of high-altitude illness, don\'t go higher until you feel better and your symptoms have gone away completely.