Mountain Climbing Guard Against Common Ailments

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Are you interested in taking up the exhilarating and exciting sport of mountain climbing? Some avid climbers liken it to a religious experience. There are dangers you need to be aware of so you can enjoy this sport safely.

Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS is a common ailment for climbers. AMS occurs when you breathe in air at high altitudes with decreased oxygen levels. The mildest symptoms of AMS are headaches and fatigue but more serious cases can result in fluid in the lungs and brain.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema or HAPE is much more serious than AMS and breathing will become very difficult which can be fatal.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema or HACE is similar to HAPE. Fluid builds up in the brain and as it swells from the fluid and pressure builds your judgement is impaired. This can also be fatal.

All of these altitude related ailments have similar symptoms and signs but with varying degrees depending on the altitude. Dizziness can be dangerous especially in steep and uneven terrain. Insomnia is another dangerous result and slows your reflexes and thinking. Nausea and fever is not as serious but it can lead to dehydration which has other dangers associated with it.

The severity of these altitude related risks can be lessened by climbing slower and keeping hydrated. If you’re climbing above 8,000 feet or your rate of ascent is more than 1,000 feet per day then you should bring an oxygen bottle to supplement the lack of oxygen. Also avoid drinking alcohol since this will cause dehydration.

To relieve mild headaches you can take a pain reliever but for insomnia do not take a sleep aid. It will cause more harm and won’t help you sleep. If your body doesn’t adjust to the altitude and symptoms subside then error on the side of caution and descend.

Frostbite is another common danger when climbing at high altitudes. It occurs when skin tissue is damaged by prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. An early sign of frostbite is a needle pricking sensation and the pain gets worse as the exposure increases. Severe cases can lead to amputation to it’s important to keep warm. Wear insulated gloves and refrain from taking them off even if it makes climbing difficult. Insulate your feet and waterproof them to keep out moisture. Since a great amount of heat can be lost through your scalp make sure you wear a hat that fully covers your head and ears.

Climbing is an enjoyable and rewarding sport but precautions must be taken to lessen your chances of injury.

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