High Altitude Sickness, Acute Mountain Illness

An altitude over 3,000 meters is usually defined as high altitude. Most of parts in Tibet is more than 3,000m. Therefore, altitude sickness is common at high altitudes due to the decreasing availability of oxygen. Most people will experience differing degrees of symptoms at high elevation. How to reduce or avoid acute mountain sickness? We will tell you below.

What is High Altitude Sickness?

High Altitude Sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), occurs in destinations at high above sea level, and is a natural reaction by the body as it attempts to acclimate itself to the high altitudes, pressure differences, lack of oxygen, dry atmosphere and other changes.

Almost all travelers coming to Tibet are affected by the high altitude sickness in different degrees. It has nothing to do with age or sex, just have to do with individual physical condition and ascent altitude. Most travelers can acclimatize the high altitude by taking easy in Lhasa for one or two days.

What is the mild symptoms of High Altitude Sickness?

Upon arrival in Tibet regions, travelers will appear different degrees of symptoms, such as dizziness, headache, nausea, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, blood pressure rising and so on.

The symptoms will gradually decrease or disappeared. If not, the sick person should be transferred to hospital or lower altitude.

How to reduce or avoid High Altitude Sickness?

According to the practical experience in Tibet, we offer some tips for travelers coming Tibet to reduce the effects of altitude sickness and prevent acute high altitude sickness.

Before you come:
1. Do exercise to improve your fitness and health as possible, both physically and psychologically. Don't be too nervous.
2. Take care of yourself and avoid catching cold, for it is difficult to recover from a cold at high altitude.
3. Prepare necessary medicines ( Gaoyuan An ???) against altitude and take high-altitude medication a day before arrival at Tibet.
4. If never go to high altitude before, it is better to consult a doctor and make a medical examination.
5. If you fly to Lhasa, make sure to get a good night's sleep the night before.

After your arrival:
1. Do not brisk walking or running immediate after your arrival, especially if you arrive by air.
2. Take a good rest and don't take shower at the first two days! Avoid catching cold.
3. Avoid tobacco, alcohol or depressant drugs, including barbiturates, tranquilizers, or sleeping pills.
4. If you feel discomfortable or your AMS symptoms are mild, do not take oxygen immediately and do adapt to high altitude by yourself or move to lower altitude. Because if you quite depend on oxygen, you will find harder to adapt to higher altitude in the next tours.
5. If your symptoms become worse and worse, pleas take oxygen and go to hospital.
6. Drink plenty of water, eat light, high-carbohydrate meals for more energy.
7. If you have any symptoms of AMS, please tell your group members and tour guide in the trip.

Hospital in Lhasa

If you feel ill, do not hesitate to ask your tour guide to take your to hospital in Lhasa city.

1. Tibet Autonomous Region People's Hospital ( Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Yiyuan ):
Located at No.18 Linkuo Beilu, Lhasa, it is the largest hospital in Lhasa with integrated facilities and experienced doctors.

2. Chuanwang Clinic ( Chuanwang Zhensuo ):
The clinic is located on the west of Beijing Donglu.

3. Lhasa City People's Hospital ( Lasa Renmin Yiyuan ):
This hospital lies on the eastern side of the junction between Beijing Donglu and Linlang Donglu.

Who should be extra careful?

1. For children, their bodies are not fully developed and have a hard time to adapt to the low oxygen condition. Parents or guardians should be extra careful about their children.

2. People, with less heart and lungs disease, need to consult a doctor for some suggestions.

3. People, who have already got a serious cold, and have severe anemia and high blood pressure, can not come to Tibet.

Which one is better to Tibet: by flight or by train?

By flight:
No matter that you fly to Lhasa from other cities in China or other countries, it means you will experience sudden exposure to altitude above 3,000 meters and no gradual incline or acclimation. For this reason, altitude sickness is much more common for travelers. However, after arrival in Lhasa, you will have more time to acclimatize the high altitude.

By train:
Most travelers who are advised to take a flight to Xining and then take a train to Lhasa, instead of taking a direct flight up to Lhasa. The elevation at Qinghai is already 3200m compared with the 3700m at Lhasa will greatly help you acclimatize the high altitude gradually. Meanwhile, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the unique high plateau scenery through the train windows.

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