Being familiar with high altitude is a process of acclimatization. When you are planning to travel Ladakh, first things should come in mind, how to get acclimatize for leh ladakh trip. Most of the places in Ladakh situated above 10000 ft, that is why travelers visiting to ladakh can get impacted with AMS. Due to AMS, visitors might get affected with headache, vomiting, dizziness or AMS. So planning to get acclimatized for high altitude helps and becomes most important factor while planning your trip to Leh Ladakh.
Altitude Sickness is a problem when the oxygen levels goes lower at high altitude. Basically, our body requires some time to get adjusted, when we travel from low level of altitude to higher levels. To compensate the loss of oxygen, our lungs and heart have to make an extra effort to compensate for the low oxygen levels.
Nuzzles amid the daunting ranges of Karakoram and Himalayas, Ladakh is known as a place for spellbinding sight of the nature’s beauty. On the other hand, while passing through such a high-altitudes passes in Ladakh, becomes problematic to some of the riders. Instead of enjoying the nature, some travellers feel conditions like vomiting, dizziness, headache etc. on such height. Depends on person to person, some of the visitors able to manage such situation and some cannot.
If you are going directly to ladakh, specially by air, sickness during your visit to high altitude is a common episode. One can see the results easily of the impact of AMS. Now, if the condition doesn’t resolve itself in some time and still you go higher, condition might gets worse. So, its better if you planning a tour to ladakh, its good to be aware about acute mountain sickness
Altitude Scale as per AMS:
8,000 – 12,000 ft (High)
12,000 – 18,000 ft (Very High)
18,000 ft & above (Extremely High)
Normally, most of the riders feel comfortable upto 8000 feet, after that as much as the elevation goes higher, chances of getting hit by AMS also increases. As the level oxygen goes down, rate of oxygen intake goes up. The level of oxygen in blood stream remains same when we do some work at home, so if you spend some time on high altitude, your body gets adjusted according to such levels. When you are on a Ladakh Trip, one must understand and follow this process of acclimatization. The time spent vs acclimatization depends and varies from person to person, so comparing one with another is not at all a good idea.
Generally, the symptoms of acute mountains sickness starts above 10000 feet to mostly riders. As much as the elevation goes up so the AMS becomes severe. To avoid such problem one should gain the altitude gradually and avoid going to ladakh directly. Situation becomes dangerous when someone sleeps at high altitude when the breathing decreases.
If you are able to manage and acclimatize on high altitude then its good, otherwise move down asap. Medicines to overcome AMS are available, however, one should consult doctor before taking them. As such medicines can make the situation worse because of their side effects.
Travelers can check for Ataxia and make a test for this. Ask affected person to walk straight by keeping his toe to toe in a straight line. If the person is not able to walk in a straight line then you should come down immediately from high altitude.
Following are the steps to get better acclimatization
Rule of Acclimatization says “After hiking to 10000 feet, one should spend a night over every 1000 ft going ahead upwards. And a full day after every 3000 feet. If you are able to manage this and your body get adjusted to altitude, then most probably you are not going to get an impact of AMS.
Keep your body hydrated. Due to low temperature and cold you won’t feel like or forget to drink liquid. Even in cold atmosphere body tend to get dehydrated easily in ladakh. Keep ORS, juices, some garlic based drinks or even garlic in plain water also helps. This process helps to keep oxygen level normal. Avoid taking too much of coffee or black tea.
One should not force anyone to drink again and again to get acclimatize process to be fast. Over hydration instead of making any good even make situation worst. This might result into vomiting or even some more problems like seizures, weakness, cerebral edema or cause confusion also.
If you are hit by AMS and showing & showing symptoms of Acute Mountains Sickness, then avoid sleeping on high altitude. Because when you sleep your body respiratory system declines to breathe properly. That’s why, it is always recommended to spend time on high mountain passes and come down to lower height in evening to stay at night. For example, not a good idea at all to spend a night at Khardungla instead either go back to Leh or come down to Nubra Valley.
Any type of over exertion can be very much problematic. It is advisable that when you are on a high altitude places, try to avoid unnecessary running, walking and even speaking. Do not get yourself engaged in any type of physical or mental activities. As doing anything unnecessary will lead to heavy breathing to maintain oxygen level in blood stream. And heavy breathing might lead to AMS.
Keep yourself away from Smoking, Alcohol, any type of sleeping pills or any sort of tobacco. As any of them can make your breathing heavier or even create problem to respiratory system while sleeping
Keeping your body warm is an important factor of survival and to avoid AMS. One should consider wearing layers instead of a single heavy jacket. Try to wear 3/4 layers of woolen and jacket top of it, to keep yourself warm. As in comparison with wearing a single heavy jacket v/s layered woolens, one can easily figure out the difference. Do not forget to keep your cloths dry and make sure to keep your head and ears covered all the time, because of extreme cold and fast moving air.
At high altitude, it’s a good idea to eat something which is high in carbohydrates. As, our body is tend to absorb most of the calories percentage from carbohydrate diet only. So, food like keeping some chocolates, dry fruits, Nuts & Seeds are some of the good example and handy food to keep yourself filled all the time while you are riding on high altitude.
If possible, sit and keep your body and head straight on the wall, this is best in all other options. Else, take two pillow and keep your head above from the level of your body. Do not keep your head flatten or on a same level of your body at all. While doing so, you will feel a lighter head and help in easy breathing.
It is recommended not to sleep in a Day Time on High Altitude. Instead keep yourself engage in some sort activity and not to forget avoid over-exertion.
Before planning for a trip to Leh Ladakh, always consult your doctor, if you can take a medicine called Diamox. “Acetazolamide” is a medicine which one can take before going to high altitude. This medicine can help reduce the chances of getting impact from AMS and symptoms like dizziness, vomiting, weakness, headache and shortness of breath if taken before getting hit by AMS. Again, consult your doctor before taking to avoid any side effect like allergy. This medicine is very useful when you want to gain altitude quickly.
So, to avoid altitude sickness before time, you should take diamox every morning on your Leh Ladakh trip. As, you are going to cross high mountain passes quickly. Even on a Terrain like Manali to Leh, you might have to cross 5 passes (Rohtang La, Baralacha La, Nakee La, Lachung La, Tanglang La) in a day or two.
Home Remedies for AMS in Leh Ladakh
Other than Diamox as a preventive medicine, there are some of the natural ingredients that can help save from leh altitude sickness. These are general and easy to carry/available items that can be useful.
One of the ingredient much beneficial on high altitude due to its two positive sides. It helps body to use oxygen more effectively. Garlic also thins the blood and enhance the blood circulation in body. Both of these factors reduces breathlessness at high elevation and keep away from leh altitude sickness. Just take 1-2 garlic and start chewing them and see the difference.
Another, natural item that can help body to use oxygen efficiently.
Mind soothing and help decrease restlessness. This also helps in headache and stomach discomfort, those are the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness. To reduce nausea and dizziness inhale lavender oil and to reduce headache just apply oil on your head.
Ginger Water / Ginger
No doubt, garlic is something which is one of the best item to be helpful in Leh Altitude Sickness. Simply, chew some ginger and get protected from vomiting, nausea and dizziness at height. You can also grind the ginger and get some jjuice to add in plain water, like 1 spoon in one glass of water. Take it in morning before going uphill and can take again at the time if you see ams symptoms.
To beat AMS in emergency situations, keep a backup of oxygen kit handy while coming to Ladakh. Certainly, this point will help you, but again you must consult your doctor for amount of taking oxygen. In case, if the symptoms doesn’t resolve then you must start coming back to lower altitude. Otherwise, staying on high altitude will make situation bad.
At least 3 month old, an infant can go to Ladakh region. Important point is, baby should not be suffering with any illness. Also, consult your doctor before taking an infant to such a height.
Altitude Sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness
AMS can be categories into three segments Mild, Medium & Severe.
1) Lethargy, interrupted sleep, dizziness, fatigue, breathing trouble, nausea, headache and lack of appetite are the Mild Symptoms. Come down back to lower altitude immediately and with the help of medicines this can be cured.
2) High Altitude headache and ataxia are the symptoms of Medium Level altitude sickness. Coming down to at least 300 to 600 meters with suitable medicines can cure this.
3) Severe symptoms of AMS is unable to walk, fluid in lungs and decreasing mental status are the symptoms to severe ams. This can only be sorted by coming down around 600 to 1200 meters.