Mount Everest, with its highest peak at the height of 29,035 feet (8848 meters) in the world, attracts many tourists and mountaineers every year.
However, at high altitudes, usually above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters), climbers may suffer from high altitude sickness which is caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels. So, acclimatization to the high altitude has become an important part of the preparation process for tourists and mountaineers to ascend mount Everest.
As you climb the Everest, the air becomes less compressed and contains fewer molecules of oxygen. At 9,000 feet, there is 75 percent of the air pressure there is at sea level. At 18,000 feet—just between Camps I and II on Mount Everest—there is half. At the top of Everest there is one-third.
The less oxygen our tissues receive, the more possible you'll suffer from one of three altitude-related sicknesses.
The first, and most common, is acute mountain sickness. What's the symptoms of acute mountain sickness?
Your symptoms will depend on the speed of your climb and how hard you push yourself. Symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. They can affect the nervous system, lungs, muscles, and heart.
Mild to moderate acute mountain sickness symptoms: difficulty sleeping; dizziness or light-headedness; fatigue; headache; loss of appetite; nausea or vomiting, rapid pulse (heart rate); shortness of breath with exertion.
More severe acute mountain sickness symptoms: blue color to the skin (cyanosis); chest tightness or congestion; confusion; cough; coughing up blood; decreased consciousness or withdrawal from social interaction; gray or pale complexion; cannot walk in a straight line, or walk at all; shortness of breath at rest
If you've ever joined an expedition to mount Everest, you’ll notice that climbers spend as much or more time going down the mountain as they do going up. As masochistic as mountaineers may seem, they don’t ascend and descend for fun. This process, known as acclimatization, is a very deliberate, slow, and steady way to prepare their bodies for the hazards of high altitude.
Here are some tips for acclimatizing to the high altitude on Mount Everest.
1. Climb the mountain gradually. Gradual ascent is the most important factor in preventing acute mountain sickness.
2. Stay for a day or two of rest for every 2,000 feet (600 meters) of climb above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters).
3. Sleep at a lower altitude when possible.
4. Make sure that you have the ability to rapidly descend if needed.
5. Drinking plenty water, more than 1 gallon per day, to help your kidneys flush out the bicarbonates that accumulate due to a higher respiratory rate.
6. Do not drink alcohol.
7. Eating digest food, increase the carbohydrates and eat less protein and fats.
8. Practice a rule of thumb: climb high, sleep low. Ascending high and then going lower could help the body’s build up and worn from the low O2 content, with fresh oxygen.
If you have heart or lung disease, you should avoid high altitudes.
If you are traveling above 9,840 feet (3,000 meters), you should carry enough oxygen for several days.
If you plan on climbing quickly, or climbing to a high altitude, ask your provider about medicines that may help.
If you are at risk for a low red blood cell count (anemia), ask your provider if your planned trip is safe. Also ask if an iron supplement is right for you. Anemia lowers the amount of oxygen in your blood. This makes you more likely to have mountain sickness.
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