The Everest Base Camp Trek is in a region that is synonymous to high altitude. It is one of the highest trekking routes in the world. It starts at 2600 m at Lukla airport reaching a high point of over 5500 m at Kala Patthar.
The entire EBC trek occurs in the two altitude regions known as ‘high altitude’ and ‘very high altitude’.
In these high-altitudes, a major challenge the trekkers face is high altitude sickness. Heading to Everest Base Camp or any other high elevation trek in the Himalayas has a potential threat of high altitude sickness.
Altitude-related illnesses such as Acute Mountain Sickness, High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) are the major risks.
To ensure you have a safe trek it’s important to be aware of this life-threatening condition and its symptoms.
Everyone is susceptible to High Altitude Sickness and it is likely to occur in physically fit persons as well as those who are unfit.
Let us help you bridge the information gap by providing an introduction to acclimatization and the use of Diamox for EBC trek in Nepal.
Diamox for Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal
Diamox (Generic name )Acetazolamide is useful to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. They are common preventative medicine taken to lessen the symptoms of altitude sickness.
This medication can reduce headache, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. These symptoms occur when you climb in short time to high altitudes ( above 10,000 feet/3,048 meters).
It is particularly useful in situations when you cannot make a slow ascent.
The best ways to prevent altitude sickness are by climbing slowly, stopping for enough rest during the ascends. This allows the body to adjust to the new height.
How to use Diamox Tablet?
You can take Diamox with or without food. Drink plenty of fluids unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
To prevent altitude sickness, start taking Diamox 1 to 2 days before you start to climb. Continue taking it while you are climbing, for at least 48 hours after you have reached your final altitude.
You may need to continue taking this medication while staying at the high altitude to control your symptoms. If you develop severe altitude sickness, it is important that you climb down as fast as possible.
Diamox will not protect you from the effects of severe altitude sickness.
A few of the side effects of Diamox are very like those of mild altitude sickness. So, we recommend taking a small dose while still at home to see how it reacts. This will allow you to differentiate Diamox’s side effects with altitude sickness’ symptoms.
Acclimatization and its importance
Acclimatization refers to spending time on rest to allow your body to adjust in the changing altitudes. With rest, your body adapts to lower levels of oxygen and decreasing air pressure.
You can do this by spending longer time at higher elevations. This is a gradual process. It takes a lot of patience and endurance.
As mentioned, the Everest Base Camp Trek covers two altitude zones high(2,500- 3,500m) and very high( 3,500- 5,500m). The extreme altitude is only encountered much further up while climbing the peak.
Everyone’s body reacts differently to different altitudes. Most people will not experience any symptoms or feel the difference up-to 2,400 m. Past that attitude, you may start to experience symptoms due to the rapid change in the air.
As the Everest Base Camp Trek starts at an elevation of 2,600 m, acclimatization plays key role in the trek from day one.
If you are living in the Himalayas, like the native Sherpa, your body will be well accustomed to high altitudes. But for most of us, the process of acclimatization takes time.
That is why a gradual ascent is an essential part of the acclimatization process.
And in case of serious symptoms of altitude sickness, the only way to improve is to descend immediately. Staying at the same altitude will typically resolve minor symptoms in a few days. But if you keep ascending, it will only make the situation worse and will put your body in danger.
What are the symptoms of Altitude Sickness?
Altitude sickness shows mild, moderate or severe symptoms as per the situation.
Deterioration in condition can lead to several conditions such as HACE and HAPE. These pose a much serious and often life-threatening risks.
The transition from severe symptoms to HACE and HAPE is often very fast. It is important to be able to identify the mild and moderate symptoms so that it is preventable.
Mild Altitude Sickness
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms are very common for most people as soon as they arrive in high altitude areas. You can resolve it by allowing 1-2 days of rest for the body to acclimatize.
You can then proceed to higher altitudes.
Moderate Altitude Sickness
- Headaches (migraines) that aren’t relieved with medication
- Strong nausea/vomiting
- Intense fatigue/muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Ataxia (lack of coordination)
Continuing to ascend with these conditions is dangerous. It will only cause the onset of further symptoms. Descent is the only way to treat these symptoms and it is compulsory.
Once you resolve the symptom, you can start a gradual ascent.
Severe Altitude Sickness
- Inability to walk
- Severe shortness of breath
- Poor cognitive abilities
- Fluid build-up in lungs
HACE and HAPE are related to severe symptoms of altitude sickness. Descent is compulsory under these conditions and further ascent is fatal.
Most people don’t suffer any side effects from Diamox. It is usable as an effective preventative measure when trekking to the Everest Base Camp. Even so, we still recommend consulting your doctor before deciding to take it.
While you may not need a prescription to buy it in some countries, we recommend seeking medical advice before taking it.
In addition, it is not advisable for pregnant women or anyone with liver or kidney issues. Or, if you have any kind of allergies.
For further information, please feel free to contact us. It is our pleasure to assist you to the best of our knowledge.