If the symptoms are a mild annoyance then you should rest until they subside. If the symptoms become more severe or do not disappear after a night’s sleep, then you should descend until you feel well.
The basic treatment for severe altitude sickness is immediate descent: altitude sickness can progress rapidly once it becomes serious. The person afflicted should be taken down between 1,000 to 3,000ft. [300 to 450m.], the distance increasing with the extent of the symptoms.
The drug acetazolamide [diamox] has been used for assisting with acclimatization when travelling to altitude. Some reports indicate that the drug might be useful in treating the early stages of altitude sickness in addition to its use in prevention. It has been shown that people who had headaches, nausea and felt unwell improved considerably within 30 minutes of taking the tablets. The adult dosage is one 250mg. tablet twice a day. The most pronounced and irritating side effect is a tingling sensation which can occur at any site and without warning. The dose can be reduced to 250 mg. per day. It is recommended that the drug is started on the morning of ascent above 10000ft./300m. and is continued until descent or the person feels acclimatised. If you decide to take acetazolamide, please inform your group leader. It should not be taken by people who are allergic to sulphur drugs.
Severe altitude sickness affects few trekkers, most know when to stop and head back down. All of our treks are based on experience and are planned to gain height gradually, with days allowed for rest and acclimatization. The above brief notes on altitude sickness are to point out what it is and to note the symptoms. Prevention is simple; make a gradual ascent and allow sufficient rest at intermediate altitudes.
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