While talking about the health conditions related to hiking, trekking, or mountaineering, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude Sickness proves to be the most serious one! It is in fact, the most feared health condition among the climbers! Let's have a look at what it is and how to treat AMS in the best possible ways!
What is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude Sickness?
- Oxygen level starts decreasing with the rise in altitude. However, beyond a height of 8,000ft or around 2,400m, the available oxygen limit is not enough for our body. And with this depletion, our body starts falling short of air supply.
- As a result of oxygen shortage, we get prone to several side-effects; minor or major. In medical science, this phenomenon is referred to as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude Sickness.
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What Are the Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?
Here are some of the basic symptoms to know if you are already affected by AMS:
Pains and Crumbles in the Muscles
Nausea or the Tendency to Vomit
Loss of Appetite or Disorderly Appetite
Swelling of Body Parts; Hands, Feet, and Face
Increase in Heartbeat
Running Out of Breath or Forceful Breathing
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- Overlooking or ignoring the above-mentioned effects might result in more severe symptoms mentioned below:
Inability to Make Decision
Irregular, but a severe cough accompanied by Blood
Chronic Chest Pain followed by Chest Congestion
Discolouration of Skin; Mostly Becoming Pale in Appearance
Inability to Maintain Balance of Body or Inability to Walk
Feeling Exhausted and Losing Consciousness or Withdrawing Self from Social Interaction
- NOTE: Ignoring these effects can result in ataxia or losing the overall control of the body.
- Do the Chances of Getting Prone to AMS Increase with Altitude?
You might not face any threat to AMS till your reach 8,000ft. Post this height, there are a high amount of chances that things will turn scary and extremely crucial for you! Refer to the table mentioned below to know about the chances of getting prone to AMS with the increase in altitude.
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Chances of AMS
Between 8,000ft to 12,000ft
Between 12,000ft to 18,000ft
How to Treat Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?
Things to do to treat AMS or overcome its effects:
- Get Acclimatised.
- Maintain Body Temperature.
- Eat Regularly.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated.
- Hike Gradually.
- Do Not Over-Sleep.
- Take Medications.
- Consult a Physician.
- Be Open to The Group Leaders.
- Get Oxygen Cylinders.
- Avoid Alcohols and Other Intoxicants.
- Stay Calm and Relaxed.
- Get Down Immediately.
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AMS in A Glimpse:
Chances of AMS
What to Do?
Take Basic Medication Only After Consulting with The Group Leader
Consult with The Group’s Medical Instructor, Follow Advanced Medication, Start Descending By 900-2,000ft
Do Not Waste Time and Descend By At Least 2,000-4,000ft