Altitude Sickness Prevention
Tibet is located on the highest plateau on the planet. Most of the areas that you will visit in Tibet are much higher than most of the people are accustomed to. With the gain in altitude, oxygen level drops. Most of the people will feel it within the first day of being at high altitude, as they can develop some of the symptoms of the altitude sickness.
However, we have mechanisms to cope with the altitude sickness. Most importantly, your body will need some time to acclimatize to such altitude. The good news is, that it happens naturally within a few days. And you can help to speed up the process, following these seven tips
1. Gain altitude slowly
It is recommended to ascent about 300 meters/1000 ft daily and take a one day break for each 1 km/ 3,000 ft gain. Gaining altitude at a steady pace is also important. That’s why it is better to walk or trek to a higher altitude, rather than flying or taking a car.
2. Go higher during the daytime, and descent for the night
It is always best to go to higher altitudes during the daytime and then descent for the night and sleep at a lower elevation. It will improve the quality of your sleep. At the same time, you will get enough time to adjust to the high elevation.
3. Stay hydrated
Your body is better prepared to cope with lower oxygen level in the air if you are hydrated. Drink plenty of water and other fluids (such as juices, soups, etc.) Try to avoid coffee and black or green tea, as caffeine in them can cause dehydration.
4. Eat more carbohydrates: chose the ones on a healthier side and unprocessed
Diet rich in carbohydrates helps with acclimatization as well. The recommended amount of carbs is 70% of your food during the time at high altitude. Chose from vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes, and fruit.
5. Get plenty of rest and sleep
The inadequate amount of rest and sleep may result in exertion which will make you more susceptible to altitude sickness.
It is essential to get enough rest while at high altitude. Take a break every time you feel you are tired. Don’t walk too fast. Just enjoy the scenery around you, and give your body time to acclimatize naturally.
It is also essential to get plenty of time to sleep. For some people, sleeping at high altitude can be difficult. In that case, try to sleep in a seated position. It can help to breathe deeper and avoid a headache.
6. Exercise lightly in the first 2-3 days
Moderate activity can help to acclimatize, while excessive physical activity may worsen the symptoms. That’s why it is recommended to walk during the first few days, avoid running and jumping. If you are trekking, try to stay in some camping area for a day or two and only go on short hikes, while returning to the camp to properly rest.
7. Avoid alcohol and depressant/calming drugs, including sleeping pills
Consumption of alcohol may cause dehydration, and it prevents your body from acclimatizing. Even if you have trouble sleeping at high altitude, it is best to avoid sleeping pills. They can cause respiratory dysfunction, leading to altitude sickness.
Hope, with these simple tips, you will enjoy your tour in Tibet!