The dreaded altitude sickness or soroche is the name given to the physiological reactions of the human body as a result of exposure to the low pressure of oxygen that exists at high altitude. Although in some people altitude sickness does not manifest itself, those who are used to the plains will begin to suffer it when they reach 2500 meters above sea level.
As we ascend, there is a progressive decrease in atmospheric pressure and also in the partial pressure of oxygen in the air we breathe in. Its sudden decrease produces important alterations in the body that can manifest themselves in very different ways.
If you plan to travel soon to countries such as Peru, Argentina or Bolivia, you cannot miss the following post as we will talk about how to identify and combat altitude sickness.
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Symptoms of altitude sickness
Symptoms usually appear after spending several hours in the area and are usually worse at night.
Fatigue or physical exhaustion
Nausea and vomiting
Lack of appetite
Sudden nocturnal dyspnea, that is, waking up abruptly with a feeling of suffocation
High altitude insomnia, especially if it is caused by periodic pauses in breathing, should be treated with acetazolamide, but never with sedatives such as those used to sleep, as they can make breathing even worse.
If the symptoms are more severe or worsen, the affected person should be lowered to the lowest possible height and always accompanied. Sometimes a 400-meter descent is usually enough to notice an improvement.
Who should be careful at great heights?
People with successfully treated heart / lung disease.
People with high blood pressure
People with a tendency to apnea during sleep.
People who have had HAPE or HACE before.
Who should never expose themselves to high altitude?
People with chronic heart / lung disease
People with anemia
People with untreated blood clotting disorders and a history of thrombosis.
People who have had HAPE or HACE before.
Tips to combat altitude sickness
Altitude sickness is caused by rapidly ascending from a certain height to a higher one and staying there without prior acclimatization. The first recommendation is to take things easy for the first few hours, do not get agitated or make physical efforts and rest as much as possible. In addition, the day before arrival at the destination it is recommended to sleep well, eat lightly and avoid alcoholic beverages.
There are people who can lose their appetite due to altitude sickness but it is recommended to take a hyperglucidic diet, rich in sugars and starches above all. Peruvian cuisine is one of the most famous in the world thanks to its excellent raw materials and delicious flavors, so altitude sickness is a good excuse to eat well.
It is also important to bundle up to avoid getting cold and stay very hydrated by drinking at least 3-4 liters of water daily.
Products against altitude sickness
Altitude sickness can be prevented to some extent. Most hotels in high altitude sites offer travelers mate or coca tea as the first remedy to begin acclimatization. It consists of a infusion made with coca leaves which helps alleviate the symptoms of sorocho and, in addition, promotes digestion.
The hotels also have oxygen tubes to serve customers who need it.. In addition, many of the excursions carry tubes to attend to those who, in the middle of a journey, begin to feel the symptoms and cannot continue. Another option is for each person to carry their own small oxygen tube that you can buy in stores.
Another remedy is to chew the coca leaves directly and swallow its juice.. The method is simple but those who are not used to its bitter taste will not find it entirely pleasant. However, there are also coca candies or chocolate and coca bonbons for those who want to taste something sweeter. Due to its popularity, many products derived from the coca leaf have been commercialized and can be found in many souvenir shops.
Science also offers remedies for altitude sickness. There are some pills that must be consumed before reaching the destination at high altitude and then every eight hours. These help to improve blood supply to the brain and increase respiratory capacity, thus helping the symptoms of altitude sickness to disappear and to enjoy the trip without problems.
These pills are sold without a prescription and are sold in boxes or divided. Thus, when reaching the destination at high altitude, all you have to do is ask for the pills to combat sorocho.
Finally, remember that those who live in high altitude places often repeat to travelers a rule that, if respected, will help to withstand mountain sickness: "drink before you are thirsty, eat before you are hungry, bundle up before you get hungry. cold and rest before exhaustion ”.