Acclimatization is one of the important things to prepare for while planning trip to Ladakh. The fact that Leh and most of the places in Ladakh are located above the altitude of 10,000 feet, visitors may suffer from dizziness, headaches or even acute mountain sickness (AMS). So planning to acclimatize to the high altitude condition becomes one of the most important things to take into consideration while you are planning your trip.
The best thing about going to Ladakh, nestled amidst the mountain ranges of the Himalayas and The Karakoram, is the breathtaking view. But there are some issues which travelers to such high-altitude face. They complain of vomiting, dizziness etc. these symptoms do not give you a chance to enjoy yourself. Some people can deal with them while the others really suffer because of them.
If one flies or drives to a higher altitude directly, then sickness during Ladakh trip is pretty common. One has to experience quite extreme consequences. If one goes higher, things can get more serious. Therefore, before you set your foot out of your house to go to Ladakh, you should be aware what altitude sickness is and how to save yourself from it.
Acclaimed and Acute Mountain Sickness
Following are the scales of Altitude:
High (8,000 – 12,000 feet)
Very High (12,000 – 18,000 feet)
Extremely High (18,000+ feet)
Many times people go up to 8000 feet without any problems, the problem comes when the altitude increases. The intake of Oxygen becomes less and therefore the breathing rate becomes higher. The level of Oxygen in blood remains the same as is required at the time doing some daily household activity. When one spends more time in high altitude and accustoms himself with such Oxygen changes, this is called as Acclimatization. Different people will acclimatize at different rates and thus there is no comparison.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) starts above the altitude of 10,000 Feet to most of the people. AMS becomes severe as the elevation becomes higher. Try to avoid going to such high altitudes directly. The condition can get worse when one sleeps, since the body respiration decreases.
If you can acclimatize properly- great, if not- move down. Nevertheless, there preventive AMS medicines too which can be consumed after consulting a doctor as there might be side effects.
Try a test to check for Ataxia. Ask the person to walk in a straight line, placing toe to toe. If he is unable to do that, immediately move down.
Tips for Better Acclimatization
Below are a few tips that will certainly help you in better acclimatization:
1. Gradual Increase in the altitude
If one goes by acclimatization rules, they state that after 10,000 feet, one should stay overnight after completing 1000 feet and for a complete day, after 3000. If things go fine, it means that you will be able to enjoy yourself in the mountains.
2. Keep hydration levels in your body proper
Consume plenty of ORS water or other fluids such as soup, milk, tea and juice. Instead of plain water, consume garlic flavored water by keeping garlic in your water bottles. This keeps the oxygen level, normal. Avoid too much of coffee or black tea.
3. Over hydrationis a complete no-no
Do not force anyone to drink water, if they are not thirsty or they will vomit or worse, can develop cerebral edema (hyponatremia, confusion, weakness, seizures or coma).
4. Try not to sleep at high altitudes
When one sleeps, respiration in our body decreases. It is advisable that after spending a day at a high altitude, move down in the evening.
5. Do not over- exert
Avoid any kind of over exertion or unnecessary physical activity.
6. Stay away from anti-depressant drugs, alcohol, smoking and tobacco
Stay from anti-depressant drugs (like sleeping pills), alcohol, smoking and tobacco. You will face more respiratory troubles.
7. Keep-up the body warmth
Keep-up the body warm by weaning woolens. Your clothes should be dry as well.
8. Consume Carbohydrates
Consume a diet that is rich in carbohydrate as you get around 70 percent of your calories from it.
9. not sleep during the day
Avoid sleeping during day time and try to indulge in one or the other activity.
10. Try Sleeping in upright position
Try and sleep by resting your back against the wall or try to keep your head on an elevated level from the body. Your head will feel much lighter.
11. Carry preventive medication
Do not forget to pack AMS preventive medication but make sure you consult a doctor before consuming them because of the possible side effects. To check for possible allergies, you can try them a week or two before the trip.
12. If condition worsens, quickly move down
If symptoms of the AMS increase, you must move down at once. This is the last and the best solution.
Symptoms of AMS
Following are the category of symptoms for the levels of AMS with their cure:
|AMS Symptoms||AMS Level||Possible Cure|
|Headache, dizziness,fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite,nausea, disturbed sleep, and a general feeling of malaise.||Mild||Medication or Descend|
|Decreased coordination (ataxia), Severe headache(not relieved by medicine), other mild level symptoms with increased effect.||Moderate||Advanced Medication or Descend about 305-610 meters|
|Inability to walk, decreasing mental status, and fluid build-up in the lungs.||Severe||Immediate Descend about 610-1,220 meters|
Is taking kids or babies to high altitudes safe?
According to studies, it is safe to carry an infant, at least 3 months old. The baby should not have any illness or should not be premature too. Along with this, there are other tips too, which a doctor can tell better.
Whatever has been given here is enough, however it is always advisable that before planning a trip to a region such as Ladakh, which is located on extremely high altitudes, one should always consult a physician. These are important suggestions but a doctor or an expert can guide you better.
GENERAL INFORMATION OF LADAKH
Area : 98000 square km.
Population : 135000
Altitude : Altitude ranges from 9000 feet (2,750 m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672 m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram.
Temperature : In summers, up to 27 degree Celsius, and in winters it is -20 degree Celsius and below in the higher reaches.
Best Season : May to Early October.
Clothing : In summers, light woolen clothes and in winters, heavy woollens with wind proofing.
Languages : Ladakhi including Balti / Purgi, Shina or Dardic, Urdu / Hindi.
Rain-fall : 15cm, 6" (annual average)
Network : Only Post Paid connection of Airtel, BSNL, Aircel, Vodafone are present there; others please check your operator’s collaboration.
ATM’s : SBI, AXIS, PNB, J&K, HDFC (Still advisable to carry Hard Cash).
HOW TO REACH LEH/ LADAKH?
There are three way to reach Leh Ladakh:
You can take a flight between Delhi and Leh. Besides Delhi, flights to Leh operate from Srinagar (once a week), Jammu (once a week) as well.
Take the road journey from Manali to Leh via Keylong, it takes two days travelling a distance of 474 kms with a night halt in Sarchu/ Pang/ Keylong.
Take a road journey from Srinagar to Leh, it takes two days traveling a distance of 434 kms with a night halt in Kargil.
AVOID ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS
Acute mountain sickness can occur to any one at an altitude above 10,000 ft. above sea level, therefore, make it sure to take complete rest on the day of arrival and get you acclimatized.
THINGS TO CARRY:
Inner Clothing (Thermal Wear) / Sun Hat / Cap.
Sun Glasses with UV Protection.
Sun Screen Lotion & Cold Cream.
Slippers and Proper Shoes.
Cotton Clothing for day Journey.
Personal Toiletries / Wind Cheater / Tissue Roll.
Avomine – Vomiting.
D Cold – Illness / Combiflam – Body Pain.
Diamox (250mg) – For High Altitude / High Pressure.
DOS & DON’TS
On Arrival, please rest for 24 Hours, as you travelling to High Altitude from Low, due to low oxygen.
Have plenty of drinking water or any kind of liquid (except alcohol).
While visiting Any Gompa, Please take a Lamas Permission for Photo or Video Shoot.
Please wear proper clothing while visiting Gompa.
For Females : No Open Hair, Short Skirts or any Short Dresses allowed at Gompa.
For Males : No Short Pants or Sleeveless allowed at Gompa.
Please follow Gompa Rules while visiting Gompa.
Please don’t forgot to take suggestion of Family Doctor before Visiting Ladakh for any kind of Medicines in case of medical history.