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Home>Tibet Travel Advice>Avoid High Altitude Sickness in Tibet

Avoid High Altitude Sickness in Tibet

June,07 2016 BY Lobsang Tsering 0 COMMENTS

As Tibet is a remote area at a high altitude, altitude sickness (or acute mountain sickness, AMS) easily occurs. A thorough physical examination is advisable before travelling to Tibet.

What Is Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is considered as the biggest health risk for travelling to Tibet. An altitude over 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) is usually defined as high altitude. Tibet is a land with average elevation above 4,000m. Most part areas where people can travel and trek is more than 3,000m, so tourists need to know how to avoid altitude sickness.

People with serious heart diseases should not visit Tibet.
Those with less serious heart problems need to consult a doctor before starting your trip.
People with high or low blood pressure need to consult a doctor before traveling.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

Acute mountain sickness is common at high altitudes due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. Most people will appear different degrees of symptoms at high elevation, such as
Headache,
Nausea,
Dizziness,
Fatigue,
Shortness of breath
Loss of appetite
Disturbed sleep,
Feeling unsteady, etc

assist tourists to finish kora in mt. kailash
Our assistant helps clients finish kora in Mt. Kailash.

The occurrence of altitude sickness depends on the altitude. The higher altitude, the serious symptoms appear. If a tourist suffers from altitude sickness, the best remedy is to take him to a lower altitude. It is extremely dangerous to let him traveling to a higher place that may cause more serious symptoms even death within few minutes.

Though altitude sickness can be very serious, there are only a handful of tourists really suffering from that. Most people will experience one kind or another altitude sickness symptom upon their arrival in Tibet. And they can soon acclimatize to high altitude within one or two days in Lhasa. The symptoms will usually gradually decrease and eventually disappear.

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness in Tibet

Before visiting Tibet
a.To get healthy as possible, both physically and psychologically. Visitors having heart disease, high blood pressure or other organ problems or anemia should consult their doctor before making the decision to visit Tibet.
b.If you go to Tibet for trekking, please make physical exercise plan (such as swimming, long distance walking, tennis, etc.) one month before you fly to the high altitude.
c.Please avoid catching cold before you go to Tibet, otherwise you will easily suffer from altitude sickness under weak physical condition.
d.Normally, tourists who choose to travel to Tibet by Qinghai-Tibet train are less likely to develop altitude sickness than flying into
Tibet. The gradual ascent does make your acclimatize better.

After Your Arrival in Lhasa

arrived in tibet
Have a rest while touring Potala Palace

a.Don't be so excited upon your arrival in Tibet, and do not run, jump or do some physically-demanding activities during the first two days. Nothing is more important than having a good rest.
b.Please do not drink any alcohol on the first two days after your arrival in Tibet. You need to prepare enough water or snacks with high caloric content, like chocolate.
c.It is better not to take shower at the first two days you are in Lhasa, because you are likely to catch a cold.
d.Do not eat food bought from the street venders. Otherwise, gastrointestinal disorders might visit you and spoil your trip.
e.Keep in mind the importance of gradual ascent
As long as your travel 1,000m higher, you should spend a night in this place, which allows your body to better acclimatize to altitude change and effectively prevent acute mountain sickness.Or if you reach a higher place (let’s say Namtso, or Mt. Kailash) during the day tour, try to sleep at a place with much lower altitude. In this way, you will be completely exempt from the risk of acute altitude sickness.

Altitude Sickness Treatment

Once you have the above symptoms of altitude sickness, please report to your tour guide immediately, and don’t go higher with symptoms of altitude sickness.
a.Medication and oxygen also help to prevent altitude sickness. Mild altitude sickness symptoms can be treated with proper medication. If medication and oxygen do not relieve the symptoms, go to hospital or evacuate immediately to a safe altitude!
b.Oxygen can help you relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness, but please do not overuse it in Lhasa while your symptoms of altitude sickness are not serious. Most of our clients has more than 4 days itinerary covering Namtso(4800m), Everest Base Camp(5200m) etc, the oxygen treatment does not work at a higher altitude if they take too much at a lower altitude.
c.If you feel chilly or feel very uncomfortable, you need to tell your guide about this. You guide could send you to the best hospital available in the area.

Tips: It is extremely important to know that all the medication may have side effects. Therefore, do consult with your doctor or pharmacist before buying or taking them. 

Other Ways to Avoid Altitude Sickness in Tibet:

a. Drink plenty of water while traveling in Tibet. Eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy and avoid alcohol so as to decrease the risk of dehydration.
b. In addition to the normal medications for traveling it is advisable to bring high altitude medication. Seek suggestions from your doctor.
d. Tell your guide quickly if you don't feel well and follow the guide's advice.
e. Other than that, Sunscreen, sunglasses, lip creams are recommended to protect your eyes and skin because the solar radiation strikes the earth with unusual intensity due to the high altitude and the thin atmosphere in Tibet.

Lobsang Tsering

About the Author - Lobsang Tsering

I am a tour guide in Tibet an was Born in Kham Tibet, I am the father of 2 little girls, bachelor's degree. I have more than 7-years experience of being a tour guide in Tibet. I am a warm, friendly, knowledgeable and attractive guy.

Email me about your travel idea

https://plus.google.com/+LobsangTsering-TibetVista

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