Altitude Sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Have you ever felt the urge to do something adventurous and explore the great outdoors? If so, have you taken altitude sickness into account? There are certain aspects that make this trek dangerous, such as the high altitude and potential risk of altitude sickness. So, in this blog, we are going to talk about the Altitude Sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
The Annapurna Base Camp Trek is a famous mountain trek in Nepal that takes about 12 to 15 days to complete. It is considered a moderate to difficult journey due to its high elevation gains and immerses travelers into epic Himalayan views.
While on this trek, hikers ascend from low elevations to over 4,200 meters above sea level. If you’re looking for a challenge that is both physically and mentally rewarding, the Annapurna Base Camp Trek could be just what you need.
Understanding how altitude affects your body is important in safely completing any high-altitude trek, such as the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Navigating changing landscapes and diverse topographies offers an incredible experience but can also cause acute mountain sickness if not treated properly.
In this article, learn more about elevations and height gain during the Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Also, get some information on Altitude Sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek and its Symptoms and Preventions.
Disclaimer: The information on this page is for reference purposes only and is not meant to substitute expert medical advice. It does not build a patient-doctor relationship and should not be replaced with a physician’s diagnosis. As information is always evolving, you must seek the latest data when traveling to high elevations.
Altitude Sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a common condition that can occur when traveling to high altitudes, such as hiking in the mountains. It is caused by the lower oxygen levels at high altitudes and can occur even if you are in good physical condition. Symptoms of altitude sickness may include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and loss of appetite.
Annapurna Base Camp, in the Nepalese Himalayas at 4130 meters (13,545 feet) from sea level, can pose a serious risk of AMS for many trekkers due to its high elevation. Trekkers need to be aware of the symptoms and risks associated with altitude sickness and how best to prevent it during their Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
Altitude sickness is like a thorny bush. The more you attempt to ascend, the further you find yourself stuck with no way out.
The most significant risk factor associated with developing altitude sickness at higher elevations, such as Annapurna Base Camp, is how quickly you ascend the mountain; a slow ascent rate allows your body more time to acclimatize gradually, thus reducing the risk. Ascending too quickly is likely to result in AMS attacking unexpectedly and even becoming life-threatening if it progresses into HACE or HAPE.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Acute mountain sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness, is a common condition that occurs when you travel to high altitudes, such as when hiking in the mountains. It is caused by the lower oxygen levels at high altitudes and can occur even if you are in good physical condition.
To prevent AMS, it is important to acclimatize gradually, stay hydrated, eat a high-calorie diet, avoid overexertion, and take medications as prescribed by a doctor. If you experience symptoms of AMS, it is important to descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
Symptoms of AMS may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the lungs at high altitudes. It typically occurs when people increase their altitude too quickly and become exposed to low air pressure, hypoxia, dehydration, and cold temperatures without proper acclimation.
High-altitude pulmonary edema can be very serious and life-threatening if not treated immediately. Treatment of HAPE should be immediate:
- Administer medication such as nifedipine
- Help keep the patient warm and dry
- Rehydrate with fluids
- Use supplemental oxygen if possible
- Arrange for an evacuation to lower elevations if needed
Prevention strategies are important, with avoidance of sudden altitude increases being paramount. Acclimatization is key, with gradual ascent allowing time for the body’s physiological systems to adjust as much as possible before reaching extreme altitudes.
Other prevention techniques include maintaining the following:
- proper hydration habits before the ascent
- using preventive medications such as acetazolamide
- rest days during acclimatization itineraries at higher altitudes
- avoiding strenuous activities during these times.
Symptoms of HAPE may include:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity
- Dry cough that may produce pink, frothy sputum
- Chest tightness or congestion
- Rapid breathing or difficulty catching your breath
- Rapid pulse
- Bluish skin color (cyanosis)
- Confusion or difficulty thinking clearly
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is a rare but potentially very serious medical condition caused by a lack of oxygen when traveling to high altitudes. In HACE, fluid and other substances accumulate in the brain and lead to swelling, which can affect mental functions. It includes thinking, vision, balance, coordination, and strength. It can occur rapidly in up to a few hours or days, depending on an individual’s rate of ascension.
To prevent and treat HACE, it is important to acclimate gradually and properly to higher altitudes. This includes allowing adequate rest time and ascending slowly so the body can adjust. The body also needs extra hydration since dehydration increases the risk of developing HACE.
Other preventive measures are limiting physical exertion during ascent since it depletes necessary energy reserves needed for acclimatization and getting supplemental oxygen if available.
Symptoms of HACE may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Confusion or difficulty thinking clearly
- Loss of coordination or difficulty walking
- Behavioral changes, such as irritability or aggression
If you have signs of HACE, you should get help immediately because it can be life-threatening if you wait too long to get help. Treatment generally includes:
- descent if already at a high altitude
- 100% oxygen
- dexamethasone if available
- rehydration with fluids until improvement occurs
Monitors even after symptoms have completely resolved so that providers are aware of potential delayed-onset cases.
Cause of Altitude Sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a condition that can occur when you ascend to high altitudes too quickly. It is caused by the reduced amount of oxygen in the air at high altitudes, which can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping.
AMS typically occurs at altitudes above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). The higher the altitude, the greater the risk of developing AMS. People who have had AMS are also more likely to experience it again.
There are several factors that can cause altitude sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek, including:
- Rapid ascent: The faster you ascend to high altitudes, the greater your risk of developing AMS. It is recommended to ascend gradually and allow your body time to acclimatize.
- Altitude: The higher the altitude, the greater the risk of AMS.
- Physical condition: People with a poor physical condition or with certain medical conditions, such as heart or lung problems, may be more prone to AMS.
- Age: Older people may be more prone to AMS.
- Dehydration: Dehydration can increase the risk of AMS.
- Alcohol and certain medications: Alcohol and certain medications, such as sleeping pills and tranquilizers, can increase the risk of AMS.
Advice during Altitude Sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Altitude Sickness is caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes, which can affect the body’s ability to adapt. To prevent altitude sickness, it is important to acclimatize slowly by spending a few days at a lower altitude before attempting to go higher.
It is also a good idea to bring a supply of medications, such as acetazolamide (Diamox), which can help prevent altitude sickness by increasing. Other medications that may help treat altitude sickness include ibuprofen or aspirin for headaches and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for muscle aches and pains.
In summary, to prevent and treat altitude sickness:
- Acclimatize slowly by spending a few days at a lower altitude before attempting to go higher
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid strenuous activity for the first 24 hours at a high altitude
- Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills
- If you start to feel symptoms of altitude sickness, stop ascending and either descend to a lower
- Altitude or wait for the symptoms to resolve
- Bring a supply of medications, such as acetazolamide (Diamox) and ibuprofen or aspirin, with you
- If symptoms are severe or do not improve, seek medical attention.
Annapurna Base Camp Elevation and Altitude Sickness
You will find numerous routes to get to Annapurna Base Camp Trek. Here, we are discussing changing elevation through the route to ABC Trek. Normally, trekking starts from Nayapul. To reach the trekking starting point, we will drive to Pokhara and catch another bus from there to reach Nayapul.
Nayapul to Hile
The elevation of Nayapul is around 1070m. We will start our trek to Hile, which lies in the 1430m. This day you will gain around 360m altitude in one day when you reach Hile. Today, you will not see much altitude difference here, and it takes around 4 to 5 hours to reach Hile.
Hile to Ghorepani
The following day, you’ll embark on a trek from Hile to Ghorepani. This requires climbing up Ulleri’s stone stairs and reaching an altitude of 2874m after gaining 1500m of elevation over 5-6 hours. This trek is not risky in terms of altitude sickness.
Ghorepani to Poon Hill to Tadapani
Ghorepani to Tadapani is one of the most popular walking pathways in the Annapurna trekking region. The elevation of Tadapani, Nepal, above sea level, is 2,630 meters. On your walk to Ghorepani, you will cover a distance of 9.7 kilometers or 6 miles. You will reach a maximum altitude of 3,210 meters, but altitude sickness is extremely unlikely. The difficulty level of this walk is moderate, but you must be physically active as there are numerous stairs to go up and descend.
Tadapani to Chhomrong
The trail from Tadapani to Chhomrong has an easy climb, meaning anyone who wants to hike to ABC can do it. The trek from Tadapani to Chhomrong, 7.6 km/4.7 miles at 2150 m altitude, is one of the most interesting parts of this trip. From Tadapani, it takes 5 to 6 hours to reach the height of Chomrong by going through the villages of Chuile, Kimrong Khola, Ghurjung, and Taulung. Since Chhomrong is lower than Tadapani, there will be no gain in altitude today. No chance of getting altitude sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek.
Chhomrong to Dovan
Chhomrong to Dovan trek distance is 8.6 kilometers / 5.3 miles. Dovan, which is 2600 m above sea level, takes 5–7 hours to hike from Chhomrong. By the time you get to Dobhan, you’ll have climbed 450 meters in elevation. The tough part of the ABC trek is going down steeply until Chhomrong Khola and then up steeply towards upper Sinuwa. While hiking up the hill, you will see many different kinds of plants and wild animals.
Dovan to Deurali
The village of Dovan is situated at an altitude of 2600 meters above mean sea level. The Dovan to Deurali hike distance is 7.7 kilometers / 4.7 miles. The Himalayan Hotel is at 2920 meters, and Hinku Cave is at 3170 meters when you make your way along this short, simple day trip. The journey from Dobhan to Deurali takes about four to five hours, during which travelers can take in the abundant wildlife along Modi Khola and the bamboo forest.
Deurali to Annapurna Base Camp via Machhapuchhre Base Camp
The best parts of the Deurali to Annapurna base camp trek are the alpine terrain, Annapurna glacier, frozen river, and high Himalayan peaks. The height of the Annapurna base camp above sea level is 4130 meters. The distance from Deurali to Annapurna base camp is 7.7 km or 4.7 mi. Trek through Bagar (3300 m) and Machhapuchhre base camp (3700 m), and then reach the base camp of Mount Annapurna in Nepal. The trail goes up slowly, and it takes 4 to 5 hours to walk to Annapurna base camp.
When they start their trip at the foothills of the Annapurna Base Camp, trekkers are likely to face some obstacles. People finish the trek as quickly as they can. This is where they go wrong the most. The hasty decision will make things even worse.
It is not recommended to skip or hurry through the acclimatization phase. Altitude sickness becomes noticeable at the height of 2600 meters above sea level.
The leading causes of altitude sickness in Annapurna Base Camp Trek are overconfidence in one’s expertise, skills, and preparation, as well as a lack of proper supervision and information.
If you have enough data, you will always have a stronger position. Taking the appropriate action at each travel point will guarantee your safety from Annapurna Base Camp Trek altitude sickness.