-Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) & Acclimatization
Life at high altitude is tough on your body and you feel its effects above 2500-2800 meters. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is no joke and can hit you like a freight train if you ignore the many symptoms. Ascending slowly with proper rest/acclimatization days are key to helping you avoid altitude sickness. The oxygen/nitrogen and air pressure reduce the higher you go, so the air pressure in Gokyo is nearly half of what it is in New York City. The recommended conservative rate of ascension above 3000 meters is 300-400 meters per day. Others say you can safely ascend 400-700 meters per day and be safe. However if you have spent several weeks or months in high elevations you may be able to go higher than these estimates. High altitude doesn't care how good of shape you're in if you don't acclimatize properly. We met plenty of people in tremendous shape who climbed to high to fast, became sick, and had to descend cutting their adventure short. Some trekkers & mountaineers take Diamox (100-250mg) to assist with acclimatization. People typically take Diamox it who ascend quickly or when they begin showing signs of AMS. We took it once in Gokyo and it did not agree with our bodies. For more information on High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), Ataxia, & Cheyne-Stokes Respiration/Periodic Breathing click this link: http://www.altitude.org/altitude_sickness.php
Here are some examples of symptoms you may experience at high altitudes:
-Brief shortness of breath and need to catch your breath (during sleep or on the trail
-Brief loss of appetite
-Frequent Urination (means you are hydrating properly)
-Alcohol doesn't jive with your system
Mild AMS symptoms (Do Not Ascend-consider going down)
-Headache: May be frontal or all around. If persistent throughout the day and worsening, consider immediate descent, especially if not improved by hydration.
-Nausea: if still persistent after 1 day consider immediate descent
-Mild Dizziness: If mild dizziness occurs take a rest and hydrate. If it worsens or if you loose consciousness, descend with help immediately.
-Dry cough: If your dry cough turns into a wet cough & pink, frothy fluid is in your mucus, descend immediately and seek medical attention.
Serious AMS Symptoms (Immediately Descend)
-Loss of consciousness
-Confusion & Hallucinations
-Severe headache & constant vomiting
-Wet cough (pink phlegm, coughing blood, liquid sound in lungs)
-Loss of coordination or Ataxia, walking like you are drunk (if this occurs you need to descend fast with help).
-Blue lips and cheeks