Altitude Sickness Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp is one of the top treks in the world. The question of Altitude sickness tends to come up on any expedition to Everest Base Camp.
Rightly so – people are curious – Will it happen to me? Will I be ok?
There are many things that you’re simply not in control of when it comes to Altitude Sickness.
I call it an equal opportunities illness.
There is no demographic group more prone to it than another.
Whether you are young or old, a smoker or non smoker, whether you are ‘super fit’ or ‘less’ fit, whether you are male or female – there is no group that stands out. So what can you do to help avoid it?
While you can’t control any of the above factors there are definitely things that you can do to give you the best chance at altitude. Your behaviour and habits are super important here.
Number one: Hydration – every cell in our body needs to be hydrated to do it’s job well.
Whether it’s a brain cell, digestive cell to calf muscle cell – they all work better when hydrated. Dehydration is a factor that can lead to altitude sickness. This is why you drink so much water on expeditions.
People often think about this when on expedition but leading up to it is also important – for example on the long journey to Nepal. Flying dehydrates you – so you need to counteract that. Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body – it’s not about how much is consumed. Alcohol is another toxin your body needs to deal with and it dehydrates you – meaning you start expedition in the negative – not a great place to begin. Drink water, stay hydrated – flavour your water to help with this too.
As well as Hydration – how fast you walk can lead to altitude sickness. Your pace at altitude should be slow and steady – giving your body the best chance to acclimatise while walking. Take photographs, enjoy the views and the chats – don’t be in a hurry to get to the lodge!
Overtaxing the body at altitude fatigues it, giving it even more work to do, as well as dealing with the altitude. This is also where if you are very unfit – there is a price.
Paying attention to your body is important – sorting out issues when they are small rather than hoping they will go away.
Taking care of yourself and working with your body rather than against it.
Some people lose their appetite at altitude – if this happens to you – it is really important to keep eating even though you don’t feel like it.
The bottom line is Food is your Fuel and without fuel you won’t have power in the tank to continue if you start skipping meals.
It’s a job get it done!
There’s plenty of good food choice in the lodges.
Simple foods are good here, soups ( more liquid!), maybe an omelette, protein and carbs. Dhal Bat (pictured) is a traditional local dish that’s easy to eat at altitude.
Your snacks will also help you do this .
Plan your snacks – they are important- not just 20 chocolate bars – this is your body’s fuel. Plan it for flavour, eating in cold temperatures (caramel is really tough to chew at -15c!). Make sure you have a balanced nutrient intake ( not all sweets but slow release foods too – like nuts etc) and variety is really important.
For Altitude : Drink well, eat well and rest well.
Don’t panic if you don’t get 7 hours solid sleep – just rest and relax, once your body is horizontal and resting – everything else is a bonus.
Rest anytime there is opportunity to – don’t be running around camp doing push ups etc! Relax and enjoy the mountains.
Many worry about Altitude sickness – if you hydrate well, walk slowly, eat and rest well – you are doing as much as you can to support your body at altitude.
Be proactive about water, food, rest and warmth.
If you take these simple but important steps, your trip of a Lifetime trek to Everest Base Camp will be all the more rewarding!
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