Acute Mountain Sickness
Acute Mountain Sickness is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers or travelers who climb too fast. It usually occurs when people rapidly reach a high altitude (typically above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters). Due to the decreasing availability of oxygen, it is very common to occur at high altitudes. Since most places in Tibet are higher than 3000 meters, adverse reactions to the high altitudes of Tibet are one of the biggest challenges in traveling there. However, if you are properly informed and prepared, high altitude should not be an obstacle to safe and comfortable travel.
Many people will experience one or more AMS symptoms upon their arrival in Tibet, including headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep. But the symptoms will usually gradually decrease in severity through acclimatization. Mild AMS usually will not interfere with mild activity.
Who can't go?
- If you have problems like anemia or hypertension, or suffer from severe heart problems and other illness of lungs, liver or kidney, you should not go to Tibet.
- If you have respiratory problems, we advise you to postpone your trip till you are fully recovered.
How to adjust with environment of Tibetan plateau?
Everyone has diverse physical condition so everybody is not physically suitable for staying at some place with average 4 000 meters elevation for several days or even longer. So we suggest you to have a physical examination before you enter to Tibet. You might want to choose some place with lower elevation to travel in Tibet as well which will be safe and responsible. The following ways may help to prevent or lessen the effects of AMS:
- Do exercise to improve your fitness before coming to Tibet.
- Avoid catching cold before you entering Tibet.
- Make sure to get a good night's sleep the night before flying to Lhasa.
- When arriving in the airport in Lhasa, walk slowly, take deep breaths. Take time to acclimatize.
- Don't do strenuous exercises and only take slight activities immediately after your arrival.
- Don't climb too fast and don't take too much luggage.
- Drink extra fluids and eat more vegetable and fruit when entering Tibet. Since the mountain air is dry and cold, it is necessary to drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid alcohol as it may increase the risk of dehydration.
- Don't smoke and don't take other depressants such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills, because these medicines will depress the respiratory drive and limit oxygen intake.
- Ascend to higher altitudes gradually. DO NOT ASCEND ANY HIGHER if you begin feeling ill.
- Prepare AMS medication, in accordance with a doctor's advice.