Altitude Sickness in Nepal: Symptoms, Prevention & More

  • Mon-Oct-2019

Prevention is better than cure,” they didn’t say this quote for nothing. Why bother with all the trouble when you can prevent it being a little too wise. Well-known as it is that Nepal is a mountainous country, thousands of tourists make their way towards the Himalayas without full information not knowing about the consequences that lie ahead.

Scaling all those heights is already challenging enough, and altitude sickness in Nepal makes things even more difficult. Most of the time Nepal is advertised as the destination for adventure-junkies mainly for mountaineering and trekking, and those who want to embark for it must well be well-knowledged with altitude sickness in Nepal and everything associating with it.

What is Altitude Sickness?

Altitude sickness in nepal

Altitude Sickness is a health hazard that occurs due to the rapid exposure to a low amount of oxygen at high altitude elevation. It is the mildest form of acute mountain sickness (AMS).

So it is simply being in high altitude, where the level of oxygen is low, without gradually getting used to with the increase in altitude. Altitude Sickness is often referred to as mountain sickness, altitude illness, and AMS, as well.

Why and how altitude Sickness occurs?

When scaling the high altitude at a rapid pace, without enough rest, then you are more than vulnerable to altitude sickness.

We are used to living in sea level, where the oxygen is 21% of dry air and inspired oxygen pressure is 19.5 kPa and when you go higher the atmospheric pressure and inspired oxygen pressure is approx 50% of sea level at 5,500 meters and only 30% at 8,900 meters.

The lack of oxygen makes a person breath faster to compensate for oxygen shortfall. Although the fast breath raises blood oxygen level, they are not adequate enough.

As the amount of oxygen is very low, our heart and lungs have to work harder, which raises the pulse and heartbeat.

Altitude Sickness in Nepal

Types of Altitude Sickness

-Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute Mountain Sickness has the least effect and appears to those who scale-up too fast to high altitude. There are no symptoms for first 12-24 hours; then after symptoms develop, it prevails even more on the second or third day. It usually begins at around 2,000 meters. It's symptoms:


-Stomach illness





High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

HAPE is a more serious form of altitude sickness, which may or may not have preceded from AMS. Trekkers face increasing breathlessness with sore cough, occasionally tinged with blood. The causes are believed to be hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstrictor and need to be cured fast, as it can be fatal. Its symptoms are:

-Dry Cough

-Tightness of chest

-Shortness of breath

-Increase in heart rate

-Crackles or wheezing in one field of lung

-Change in skin color (into blue)

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

altitude sickness in nepal

It is the most severe form of altitude sickness when the brain swells with fluid as an effect of physiological effects of traveling to high altitude. Generally, patients with AMS and other symptoms like nausea and lethargy are infatuated with HACE. Its further symptoms are:

-Loss of consciousness

-High fever

-Increase of heartbeat

-Intolerance to light

-Dysfunction of parts of the nervous system

-Altered mental state

Treatment of for Types of Altitude Sickness in Nepal

Acute Mountain Sickness

-Taking Acetazolmide at a quantity of 250 mg twice a day helps.

-Ibuprofen and Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) are helpful as well.


-Immediate descent might not be necessary, unless of an emergency.

-Taking 20 mg Nifedipine in 8 hours gap.

-Oxygen for several hours until the person is able to maintain oxygen saturation above 90% while breathing the surrounding air.

-Use of Portable Hyperbaric Chamber.


-Patients should be immediately bought down. (Avoid rapid descent)

-Immediate supply of oxygen.

-Portable Hyperbaric Chamber can be used for temporary treatment.

-Dexamethason 8 mg immediately and 4 mg in a gap of 8 hours, until the patient is bought down.

(HACE is the extreme level of altitude sickness and can be fatal, if untreated for 24 hours. If left untreated, the patient will enter a coma and die.)

How to prevent Altitude Sickness in Nepal?

Now that you have known how dangerous and fatal can be altitude sickness, best to prevent it, then treating it. Recovering from altitude sickness can take days or even weeks, and of, course, you can’t risk your life again. There are altitude sickness medications over the counters of a hospital, which you can obtain easily, but there is a measure on how to avoid altitude sickness as well.

winning altitude sickness in nepal


Acclimatization is the best way for keeping altitude sickness in Nepal or anywhere else at bay. A rapid change in environment is hazardous even if not high altitude and when a person is gaining elevation, he/she needs gradual progression providing their body enough time to adapt to lower air pressure and decreased level of oxygen, which is known as acclimatization.

Usually, the problem of altitudes sickness starts appearing from 2,000-3,000 meters elevation.

An average human needs one to three days to become acclimatized to change of altitude. It is those people, who are at high risk of altitude sickness, who take no heed of acclimatization.

-Do not hurry

Do not hurry; it is not a race; it is your life at stake after all. Outline your itinerary, giving yourself adequate time to scale. Even Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) has suggested once you are above 3,000 feet/10,000 feet, aim to increase your sleeping elevation by no more than about 500 meters/1,500 meters in one day.

In case if your logistics had you ascend more than the recommendation, then try adding an extra day for acclimatization to keep average ascent below 500 meters/day. So to prevent altitude sickness in Nepal, keep a slower place is one of the best measures.

-Be Cautious of what you eat

While trekking or climbing mountain, even if you come across the initial symptoms of altitude symptoms, do let that affect your diet. Altitude Sickness is already wearing you down; you must need the energy to fight it.

Some other tips are; drink more than enough water, no alcoholic drink or caffeine, and no sleeping pill even though you are sleepless.

Also, to avoid altitude sickness in Nepal, these food items can help you; crabs, garlic, cinnamon, lemon juice, and cloves.

Leave a Message
Leave a Message