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Tips for dealing with altitude sickness

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altitude sickness from cuzco

The dreaded altitude sickness or soroche is the name given to the physiological reactions of the human body following exposure to the low oxygen pressure that exists at high altitudes. Although altitude sickness does not manifest itself in some people, those who are accustomed to the plains will begin to suffer from it when they reach 2,500 meters in altitude.

As we ascend, there is a gradual decrease in atmospheric pressure and also in the partial pressure of oxygen in the air we inhale. Its sudden decrease produces significant alterations in the body that can manifest themselves in very different ways.

If you are planning to travel soon to countries like Peru, Argentina or Bolivia, you cannot miss the following post because we will talk about it how to identify and fight altitude sickness.

symptoms of altitude sickness

altitude sickness

Symptoms usually appear after being in the spot for several hours and usually get worse at night.

severe headaches
Fatigue or physical exhaustion
Sleeping troubles
nausea and vomiting
digestive disorders
Lack of appetite
physical exhaustion
Sudden nocturnal dyspnea, i.e. waking up suddenly with a feeling of choking
Altitude insomnia, particularly if caused by periodic pauses in breathing, should be treated with acetazolamide, but never with sedatives such as those used for sleep, as these can make breathing worse.

If the symptoms are more serious or worsen, the descent of the affected person must begin immediately at the lowest possible height and always accompanied. Sometimes a descent of 400 meters is usually enough to see an improvement.

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Who should be careful at high altitude?

People with successfully treated heart/lung disease.
Pregnant women
People with high blood pressure
People prone to sleep apnea.
People who have had HAPE or HACE before.

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Who should never be exposed to high altitude?

People with chronic heart/lung disease
people with anemia
People with untreated blood clotting disorders and a history of thrombosis.
People who have had HAPE or HACE before.

Tips for dealing with altitude sickness

peru cuzco

Altitude sickness occurs when you quickly ascend from a certain height to a higher height and stay there without prior acclimatization. The first recommendation is to calm down for the first few hours, not to get agitated or make physical efforts and to rest as much as possible. In addition, the day before arrival at destination, it is recommended to sleep well, eat lightly and avoid alcoholic beverages.

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There are people who can lose their appetite due to altitude sickness but it is recommended to follow a high carbohydrate diet, rich in sugars and especially starches. Peruvian gastronomy is one of the most renowned in the world thanks to its excellent raw materials and delicious flavors, so altitude sickness is a good excuse to eat well.

It is also important to wrap up well so you don’t get cold and to stay well hydrated by drinking at least 3 or 4 liters of water a day.

Altitude sickness products

coca tea

Altitude sickness can be avoided to some extent. Most hotels at high altitudes usually offer travelers mate or coca tea as the first remedy to begin acclimatization. It consists of a coca leaf infusion which helps relieve the symptoms of sorocho and, in addition, promotes digestion.

Hotels also have oxygen tubes to serve guests who need them.. Additionally, many excursions carry tubes to treat those who, in the middle of a trip, begin to experience the symptoms and cannot continue. Another option is for everyone to bring their own small oxygen tube which they can buy in stores.

Another remedy is to directly chew the coca leaves and swallow their juice.. The method is simple but those who are not used to its bitter taste will not find it quite pleasant. However, there are also coke candies or chocolates and coke for those who want to taste something sweeter. Due to its popularity, many products derived from the coca leaf have been marketed and can be found in many souvenir shops.

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coca leaves

Science also offers remedies for altitude sickness. Some pills must be consumed before reaching the destination at high altitude, then every eight hours. These help to improve the blood supply to the brain and increase the breathing capacity, thus helping the symptoms of altitude sickness go away and you can enjoy the trip without a problem.

These pills are sold without a prescription and are sold in boxes or divided. So, when arriving at your destination at high altitude, you just have to ask for the pills to fight the sorocho.

Finally, remember that those who live at altitude often repeat to travelers a rule which, if respected, will help them resist altitude sickness: “drink before you are thirsty, eat before you are hungry, cover you long before you get cold and rest before exhaustion.

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