Worried About Altitude Sickness
What is Altitude Sickness?
Wikipedia has a great introduction to what it is, what the symptoms are, and how one should deal with it. Please first read their explanation by clicking on the logo below:
What we recommend is the following… But we remember, we are not doctors!
- Spend a couple days acclimatizing here in Kangding. This not only helps our business!…but will give your body a chance to get used to the lower levels of oxygen. It takes your body some time to produce some new red blood cells in order to carry more oxygen. Especially if you are just arriving after a big flight or lots of travel and then ascending quickly, you will benefit from a day or two at 2600m/8500ft first to help strengthen your body. You will not regret the investment of helping your body be healthy before ascending to higher altitudes. It’s better than getting sick and having to leave!
- Relax and go for it! Don’t be bothered by a small headache or if you wake up several times throughout the night your first couple nights at altitude. If you do get a severe headache, rest and don’t ascend higher until you feel better. Drink lots of water and not a lot of alcohol or caffeine. Consider helping your body prepare ahead of time with some of the medicines or supplements listed below.
- IF YOUR SYMPTOMS WORSEN: If your head ached turns into a migraine, you can’t hardly sleep, develop a cough and/or you feel dizzy and nauseous, then you need to head to lower altitudes right away. Your sickness will not improve in time once it has reached this point. You can’t wait it out.
Medicine & Supplement options to help prevent AMS
- Western medicine has a drug called Diamox. We are not big fans of it because it has its own side affects.
- Our best recommendation is a Chinese medicine has a herb called Hong Jin Tian 红景. It is sold throughout pharmacies here in Kangding, in Chengdu and at Zhilam Hostel. This has very little to no side affects and seems to be really helpful for a lot of people. You can take one each morning a few days to a week before ascending and while at high altitude. See below for more information about Hong Jin Tian 红景天.
- Periwinkle Extract can be taken before and during your time at high altitude. Nature already gave us plants that grow at high altitude that can help us when we go to high altitude!
- Chinese Angelica 当归 is also recommended in Tibetan Medicine as a treatment for high altitude. Please do adequate research and talk to your doctor before taking this supplement.
- According to traditional Tibetan medicine, if you are really in a remote area and begin getting sick, you can eat the flower or the stem from the Rhododendron plant 杜鵑花 and it will help your body!
According to one of our former staff who was studying Tibetan medicine, the following herbal supplements are also available in pharmacies to help you adjust to high altitude. We haven’t yet researched them further, so let us know if you learn something about them.
What is Hong Jin Tian 红景天?
Tibetan Rhodiola Sacra
If you get Altitude Sickness…
- If you get symptoms that seem severe, descend before it worsens!
- Drink lots of water & get some oxygen
- Eat a high calorie diet and a diet rich in foods that help your body produce new red blood cells, so your body can carry more oxygen
- Hang out in our comfortable hostel until you feel better!