Ladakh offers innumberable number of trekking options and needs no elaboration. However one subject which is very important is to be aware of AMS. Before going on any trekking expedition just be aware of AMS. Lets see what it is…
When you arrive in Leh, remember that you are at an altitude of 3500m. Rest for the first 2 days – great excuse to read a book, sit around and chat, drink lots of water. If you must do something, try to wait until the second day and use taxis to get around. Explore Leh on the third day and see how you are feeling. Listen to your body! Do NOT start a trek until at least the third day, preferably the fourth day. Allow your body the time it needs to acclimatise.
Causes of Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness, also known as AMS (acute mountain sickness), is caused by a lack of oxygen at high altitudes (3,000m and above). It occurs as the result of our bodies’ inability to adapt to a sudden increase in altitude. If given time, our bodies will adjust and a gradual ascent will decrease the possibility of altitude sickness.
Prevention of AMS
You need to drink a lot of water, pay attention to the sensations of your body and just relax and not be in a hurry. If symptoms occur you have climbed too far for the day. Rest at the same altitude will give you time to acclimatise and usually relieve mild symptoms. Mild symptoms include: headache, nausea, loss of appetite, mild shortness of breath with minimal exertion, difficulty sleeping, dizziness or light-headedness, mild weakness, fatigue, a general unwell feeling. More serious symptoms include: inability to recover from shortness of breath with rest, severe persistent headache, low urine output, vomiting, confusion, delirium, loss of coordination. These require immediate descent as acclimatisation will not take place at the same altitude. The best way to avoid AMS is to walk slowly, carry a light pack and just take it easy.