What is altitude sickness?


Altitude sickness is not a disease but a negative impact on your health that occurs due to low oxygen levels at high elevation. Altitude sickness mostly occurs from 2500m or 3000m elevation above sea level to the maximum point. Due to improper acclimatization/rest day during your trek/travel, unfitness body, diseases, improper guide, and other things then there is a high chance for getting altitude sickness. However, there are 3 stages of high-altitude sickness according to the max elevation you climb. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) are the three-altitude sicknesses.


Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

It is mostly occurring from 2,500 to 3,500 m elevation above sea level. If you suffer from Acute Mountain sickness then you will have a headache, dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, very tired, no appetency, and short breaths. It is also the first stage of altitude sickness and also a common sickness among trekkers. However, with proper treatment, acute mountain sickness can be cured right away.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

If you don’t get AMS then it’s not like; you will not get any altitude sickness. AMS is the first stage of altitude sickness and most of the people don’t suffer AMS at low elevation. However, after reaching 5,000m elevation there are high possibilities of getting HAPE as well as AMS also. Similarly, some trekkers in Everest Base Camp usually are affected by HAPE because it is the highest Base Camp with 5,545m. HAPE is the life-threatening sickness you will face in high elevation.

The symptoms of HAPE are shortened of breath while walking as well as resting, coughing (most cases blood), difficulty in walking uphill as well as a flat surface, fever, chest pain/discomfort, and fatigue. It highly affects your lungs which can cause death also if there is no treatment at the right time.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

If you are a trekker then there is very little chance to get HACE but if you are preparing to climb more than 5,500m elevation mountain then there are high possibilities. Due to direct effect on the brain, the symptoms of HACE are confusion, unconsciousness, fever, rapid heartbeat, ataxia, dizziness, unclear-vision or blindness. If you are affected by HACE then it will cause your brain to swell with fluids first which results in impairment. And if there is no treatment soon then he/she will die due to brain damage.

How to know if I got altitude sickness?

As I mentioned earlier that altitude sickness is occurred due to low oxygen levels at high elevation. But there are cases where people get confused.

What type of confusing you may ask?

First of all, it’s the high elevation you are going for your adventure but its sometimes cold there or maybe different atmosphere than your place. Sometimes, you may get a fever due to cold or maybe sick due to food poisoning and vomit due to food poisoning. Then this is not the case of altitude sickness.


To know exactly how you have got altitude sickness is to ask yourself first if you were physically & mentally fine before trekking or not? Then if the symptoms match like dizziness, short breath even while resting, vomiting and pain in the muscle then take the treatment or procedure that your guide says.

Note: It’s better to get your health check-up before planning to trek.

Will guide help me if I get altitude sickness?

If you’re going through the companies hiring a guide then, of course, they will help you. It is also recommended for you to take a guide with you because the guide always knows the methods to cure altitude sickness. Similarly, you won’t be lost in the way as well as you will have plenty of acclimatization day and good guidance from guide.

If you visit Nepal for your trek then hire an experienced guide. Whereas Pristine Nepal Treks & Expedition always guarantee your safety and has an experienced guide to give the best services. You can also contact info@pristinenepal.com for inquiry or to ask questions. Similarly, if you want to know how to cure altitude sickness or prevent altitude sickness then visit here.

Note: Best idea to reduce altitude sickness is to go down. Normally, you should go down to the same altitude which elevation you started in the morning.

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