Acclimatization is one of the important things to prepare for while planning trip to Ladakh. The fact that Leh and most of the places in Ladakh are located above the altitude of 10,000 feet, visitors may suffer from dizziness, headaches or even acute mountain sickness (AMS). So planning to acclimatize to the high altitude condition becomes one of the most important things to take into consideration while you are planning your trip.
The best thing about going to Ladakh, nestled amidst the mountain ranges of the Himalayas and The Karakoram, is the breathtaking view. But there are some issues which travelers to such high-altitude face. They complain of vomiting, dizziness etc. these symptoms do not give you a chance to enjoy yourself. Some people can deal with them while the others really suffer because of them.
If one flies or drives to a higher altitude directly, then sickness during Ladakh trip is pretty common. One has to experience quite extreme consequences. If one goes higher, things can get more serious. Therefore, before you set your foot out of your house to go to Ladakh, you should be aware what altitude sickness is and how to save yourself from it.
Acclaimed and Acute Mountain Sickness:-
Following are the scales of Altitude:
High (8,000 – 12,000 feet)
Very High (12,000 – 18,000 feet)
Extremely High (18,000+ feet)
Many times people go up to 8000 feet without any problems; the problem comes when the altitude increases. The intake of Oxygen becomes less and therefore the breathing rate becomes higher. The level of Oxygen in blood remains the same as is required at the time doing some daily household activity. When one spends more time in high altitude and accustoms himself with such Oxygen changes, this is called as Acclimatization. Different people will acclimatize at different rates and thus there is no comparison.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) starts above the altitude of 10,000 Feet to most of the people. AMS becomes severe as the elevation becomes higher. Try to avoid going to such high altitudes directly. The condition can get worse when one sleeps, since the body respiration decreases.
If you can acclimatize properly- great, if not- move down. Nevertheless, there preventive AMS medicines too which can be consumed after consulting a doctor as there might be side effects.
Try a test to check for Ataxia. Ask the person to walk in a straight line, placing toe to toe. If he is unable to do that, immediately move down.
Tips for Better Acclimatization:-
Below are a few tips that will certainly help you in better acclimatization:
1. Gradual Increase in the altitude
If one goes by acclimatization rules, they state that after 10,000 feet, one should stay overnight after completing 1000 feet and for a complete day, after 3000. If things go fine, it means that you will be able to enjoy yourself in the mountains.
2. Keep hydration levels in your body proper
Consume plenty of ORS water or other fluids such as soup, milk, tea and juice. Instead of plain water, consume garlic flavored water by keeping garlic in your water bottles. This keeps the oxygen level, normal. Avoid too much of coffee or black tea.
3. Over hydrations a complete no-no
Do not force anyone to drink water, if they are not thirsty or they will vomit or worse, can develop cerebral edema (hyponatremia, confusion, weakness, seizures or coma).
4. Try not to sleep at high altitudes
When one sleeps, respiration in our body decreases. It is advisable that after spending a day at a high altitude, move down in the evening.
5. Do not over- exert
Avoid any kind of over exertion or unnecessary physical activity.
6. Stay away from anti-depressant drugs, alcohol, smoking and tobacco
Stay from anti-depressant drugs (like sleeping pills), alcohol, smoking and tobacco. You will face more respiratory troubles.
7. Keep-up the body warmth
Keep-up the body warm by weaning woolens. Your clothes should be dry as well.
8. Consume Carbohydrates
Consume a diet that is rich in carbohydrate as you get around 70 percent of your calories from it.
9. Not sleep during the day
Avoid sleeping during day time and try to indulge in one or the other activity.
10. Try Sleeping in upright position
Try and sleep by resting your back against the wall or try to keep your head on an elevated level from the body. Your head will feel much lighter.
11. Carry preventive medication
Do not forget to pack AMS preventive medication but make sure you consult a doctor before consuming them because of the possible side effects. To check for possible allergies, you can try them a week or two before the trip.
12. If condition worsens, quickly move down
If symptoms of the AMS increase, you must move down at once. This is the last and the best solution.
Is taking kids or babies to high altitudes safe?
According to studies, it is safe to carry an infant, at least 3 months old. The baby should not have any illness or should not be premature too. Along with this, there are other tips too, which a doctor can tell better.
Whatever has been given here is enough; however it is always advisable that before planning a trip to a region such as Ladakh, which is located on extremely high altitudes, one should always consult a physician. These are important suggestions but a doctor or an expert can guide you better.