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The Effects of Altitude

Most people going high have to deal with altitude related illnesses. Dealt with correctly, they are unlikely to be a major problem. Dealt with incorrectly they can be disastrous – spoiling the trip for the person who is ill and those with them.

Being honest about how you feel each day can make a difference, and knowing what’s happening to you could save your life.

Some very strange things can happen to your body when you go high!

Most people who have been to altitude can tell you about having headaches, being out of breath, sleeping badly and not feeling hungry. These are symptoms of AMS. AMS is uncomfortable, not life threatening. If the AMS symptoms become severe and you keep going higher – fluid in the brain (High Altitude Cerebral Oedema – HACE) or fluid in the lungs (High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema – HAPE) can happen and these can kill you very quickly.

What people don’t know about is that you’ll need to pee more, your balance may become unsteady, your eyesight could change and your nails will grow differently.

We hope the following pages will tell you about some of the things you may experience and how best to deal with them. Some are mainly about comfort, but some can lead to long term damage to health or death. Finding out about what your body is doing as it goes higher is fascinating and can become part of the fun of travel! In fact, when you think how clever your body is at dealing with such big changes, you may even want to know more!

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