How to Overcome Altitude Mountain Sickness while trekking in Nepal?

escapehimalayaFeb 27th 2024

Trekking in Nepal has always been in the bucket list for many adventure enthusiasts across the globe. But, have you ever imagined, how challenging it becomes when you actually get a chance to climb some of the high altitude treks in Nepal?

One of the most frequent challenges you’ll going to face would be “Altitude Mountain Sickness”. Yes, you heard it right! There are a number of trekkers who visit Nepal every year for trekking adventure often suffers from this dangerous mountain sickness.

The trekkers came under the influence of Altitude Mountain Sickness when the air pressure in the high altitude region on the trek increases continuously, generally above 3,500 feet and their body fails to acclimatize with frequently decreasing oxygen levels.

Anybody from a kid to adult and a beginner to experienced trekker may suffer from Altitude Mountain Sickness in high altitude regions of Nepal treks.

Some of the common stages and symptoms of Altitude Mountain Sickness

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

This is the most common stage of mountain sickness. In this stage, you’ll feel Headache, Weakness, lightheadedness, vomiting, and disturbance while sleeping.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

This is a more dangerous stage of Altitude Mountain Sickness after AMS, under the influence of which you’ll suffer from severe headache, fatigue, frequent vomiting, and loss of coordination, laziness, falling, double vision, short term memory loss, hallucination, aggressive behavior, coma or even death.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

This stage is a life-threatening emergency. The major symptoms you would notice under this are wet & dry cough, difficulty in breathing and all the symptoms of AMS.

Now, there are many precautions that you can follow before going for trekking in any high altitudes treks in Nepal. But, if unfortunately, you’ll realize any of these above symptoms in you during the high altitude trek then how will you counter the situation immediately?

I have seen these kinds of casualties with many trekkers, especially in the high altitude regions of Nepal treks and also their immediate take to overcome the emergency.

On the basis of that, I want to tell you some really important ways which you can follow to overcome Altitude Mountain Sickness while trekking in Nepal?

1) Descending Immediately

As soon as you start realizing any of the symptoms related to AMS, the very first action you must take is to stop ascending higher anymore along the trek and just starts descending from the high altitude regions of the trek to lower levels. It is advisable to descend 1,600 to 3,200 feet, which helps you to acclimatize slowly and after that, take complete rest for about 24 – 48 hours.

If your level of sickness is mild and just falls under the first stage, then the chances of recovery are very much possible within 24 hours after proper rest.

But if you undergo severe altitude mountain sickness and falls under the category of HAPE or HACE then it is going to be a more dangerous situation for you. You should descend immediately to lower levels (lower than 4,000 feet) and consult with the doctor as soon as possible. If any medical emergency arises then don’t be late to get yourself admitted in the Hospital for proper care and medications.

2) Drink More Water

The second way you can overcome altitude mountain sickness is Acclimatization at higher altitudes. Though acclimatization is a long process and it would take many days or even weeks for properly adapting the process and survive safely at high altitudes.

As previously discussed, the only way to overcome altitude sickness (especially HACE or HAPE) is descending to lower elevation. But, if your sickness level is mild (AMS) then you can easily overcome AMS by drinking lots and lots of water that help your body to acclimatize at higher altitudes.

Though there are not any fixed limits for how much water you need to consume for proper acclimatization. But, I would suggest, drink as much as water as you can which is relatively higher than what you drink normally at home.

3) Avoid Exercise

Avoiding hard exercise is another important cure that could help you in overcoming high altitude sickness. You probably have been listening to the people opinion according to whom, one must need proper fitness level while trekking in Nepal and for achieving this, you must need to do hard work out for climbing high altitude region of Nepal treks without body pain.

But do you know hard exercise might cause you high energy consumption, which results in loss of oxygen levels in the body? And due to the insufficient amount of oxygen level, the chances of altitude sickness would also increases.

For proper acclimatization in the higher altitudes, try to lower down your pre work out sessions. This practice would help you in overcoming altitude mountains sickness efficiently. Since you are acquiring a higher number of oxygen levels it allows you to recover rapidly.

4) Climb high Sleep low

There is one most common symptom which you may undergo while suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness- “Disturbance while sleeping or awake suddenly at nights”.

To overcome this AMS symptom, one needs to sleep well at night while trekking in high altitude regions especially with a saline nasal spray which helps you in keeping your nasal passage open.

 Also, follow the “Climb high Sleep Low” method, better explained by the US Army Medical Department:

“Sleep at an altitude that is lower than the altitude you were at during the day. For example, if you ski at 9500 ft (2896 m) during the day, sleep the night before and the night after at 8000 ft (2438 m). "Climb high, sleep low" is standard practice for those who spend time at high altitudes”.

In short, you should immediately move to a lower altitude to take proper sleep as soon as you feel the symptoms of AMS and then start ascending again.

5) Take Medications

Now, this is the most important step which you can take most often as soon as you find yourself under any stages of altitude mountain sickness.

Note: You must have to consult the doctor before taking any combination of drugs to overcome altitude mountain sickness while trekking in Nepal.

Different medicines are prescribed for treatment of different symptoms, but depending on which level of sickness you are sufferings, here are some common suggested medicines:

  • Aspirin- Only for Adults
  • Ibuprofen- Pain killer to overcome Headache
  • Zofran - To overcome Nausea
  • Sleeping peels- For Insomnia
  • Nifedipine- For lower down Blood Pressure Levels
  • Dexamethasone- To cure swelling of the brain (In case of HACE)
  • Acetazolamide- To increase persons breathing rate

All these combinations of drugs may have certain side effects and that’s why it is advisable to ignore referring these medications especially if you are suffering from mild mountain sickness.

Instead, you can prefer the drug “Acetaminophen”- It is safer than the above combination of drugs that has the least side effect. It will provide you instant relief from AMS.

6) Use of Gamow Bags

At some high altitude treks in Nepal like Lukla, you must need to carry Gamow Bags for maintaining oxygen levels. It is also called a hyperbaric oxygen chamber used to overcome severe altitude mountain sickness while trekking in Nepal.

The Gamow bag is completely filled with air that allows the trekkers in a high amount of oxygen intake so that they could able to breathe well while suffering from Altitude Mountain Sickness.

7) Drink Ginger Juice

You’ll overcome Altitude Mountain Sickness while trekking in Nepal by following some Organic Home remedies also.

According to the well know Herbalist “Christopher Hobbs”

Ginger is one of the best remedies for overcoming mild Altitude Mountain Sickness.

 If you are suffering from AMS then prepare a Ginger Juice by just mixing 20 drops of Ginger liquid with a half cup of water and drink immediately.


Trekking in Nepal could be one of the most adventurous activities you can experience in a lifetime whether you are trekking in the challenging Everest base camp or a short Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal.

But the main challenge is to keep yourself safe from casualties like Altitude Mountain Sickness in higher altitudes. After all, life is the biggest adventure than any other thing in the world.

Author Bio

I am Akshay Lendey, I help beginners and family in planning budget itinerary for trekking and eco-destinations across India.


escapehimalayaFeb 27th 2024

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