Traveling in different areas can throw your body off in a variety of ways. When it comes to changing altitudes, experience altitude sickness is a real possibility. This is particularly common in the Himalayas and other mountain areas where there is a significant raise in the altitude.
It is important to know what the warning signs of altitude sickness are before you travel to any area where it might be a problem, since the inexperienced person might not recognize that are suffering from it and cause more problems than the person who can spot it and do something about it.
It is quite normal at a higher elevation to feel tired, have shortness of breath, and just feel a little weird, as it takes the body some time to acclimate to a different altitude. Some people might feel hungover, or like they have the flu. Some people experience headaches as the first onset, but headaches can also be a symptom of dehydration. It can very from person to person. Either way staying hydrated is important no matter when there are symptoms or when there are not.
Between 4,900 and 11,500 feet people might start to experience trouble with breathing or tightness in the chest and they may notice that they can’t move as quickly or as effectively as normal.
At a very high altitude between 11,500 and 18,000 feet, extreme altitude sickness can occur and hypoxemia can occur during exercise or during sleep.
No humans permanently live above 20,000 feet because it is impossible to remain stabilized and fully functioning there.
The symptoms will generally come on between six to ten hours after the ascent and with treatment can go away after about a day or two.
Drinking more water, going up in elevation slowly, and resting a lot can help with this process. Exertion makes it worse, so it is really important to get as much rest as you can while you are dealing with the altitude sickness, as frustrating as it can be to be on a trip and not feel up toe exploring the new area. With treatment and moving slowly the symptoms should start to go away, otherwise one must descend to protect themselves.
Altitude sickness becomes a problem when these precautions are not taken. If altitude sickness continues to progress it can turn into high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), which can be fatal.
Symptoms of severe altitude sickness include a fever, a cough similar to bronchitis, loss of consciousness, etc.
The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to ascend slowly to give the body time to acclimate at each stage. This allows the body to adjust to having lower levels of oxygen present.