What is it?
Altitude illness describes a number of problems that may occur when an individual ascends rapidly to high altitude, usually above 2,500m. As you gain altitude, air pressure decreases and so your body takes in less oxygen molecules per breath, leading to less oxygen being delivered around the body.
High altitude regions of the world such as the Himalayas (Asia), the Andes (South America), Rocky Mountains (North America), the Alps (Europe).
Popular high altitude destinations include Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (5,380m), Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (5,895m), the Inca Trail in Peru (up to 4,200m), Aconcagua in Argentina (6,960m), Mount Kinabalu in Malayisan Borneo (4,095m) & Mount Fuji in Japan (3,776m).
Cities located at high altitude include: Lhasa, Tibet (3,658m); La Paz, Bolivia (3,630m); Cuzco, Peru (3,399m); Quito, Ecuador (2,819m); Bogotá, Colombia (2,644m); Addis Ababa (2,408m) and Johannesburg, South Africa (1,750m).
The best way to prevent altitude illness is by acclimitasing slowly and allowing for rest. It is also important to be aware of symptoms of altitude illness and always attempt to descent if these symptoms worsen at a given altitude or if they are severe.
Table 1: Wilderness Medicine Society Risk categories for Acute Mountain Sickness
Medication is not necessary for low risk, with gradual ascent sufficient for individuals. For moderate or high risk ascents, preventative medicine may be considered in conjunction with gradual ascent. Acetazolamide (Diamox) is the preferred medicine but is unlicensed for this indication.
Please discuss your requirements with our Travel Pharmacist or Nurse.
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