The first day we went from a height of 2,328 to 3,635, but during the day we reached the highest point in the area, at almost 5,000 meters and on the second day we went from a height of 3,635 meters to 3,815 meters, that is, we were very high!
What is altitude sickness?
These are physiological reactions caused by the poor adaptation of our body to the lack of oxygen, when we quickly ascend to altitudes above 2,400 meters above sea level (masl). In some people the symptoms do not even manifest. In others, they take a few days to appear, and there are those who feel them a few hours after ascending. Altitude sickness is also called acute mountain sickness (MAM), soroche, yeyo, or paramo disease.
What are the symptoms of altitude sickness?
Some of the symptoms are headache, dizziness, fatigue, physical exhaustion and agitation. There is also the "zombie sensation", characterized by a lack of concentration, hunger, and energy. Sleep disorders, digestive disorders, nausea or vomiting may also occur. The most severe cases cause pulmonary edema and / or cerebral edema. In my case, the first day was a feeling of exhaustion, it was like slow motion and everything was costing me a lot of effort, and the second day, it was a pretty unbearable headache, the good thing is that I had no obligation to make efforts for what I did not get nervous and let the symptoms pass. One of the women who went on our excursion had a worse time and the first afternoon was spent at the hotel with vomiting and nausea.
What should we do to avoid or reduce altitude sickness?
1. Acclimatization The most important thing is to adapt to that new height that our body is not used to. Before climbing beyond 2,500 meters high, find out how much it is advisable to climb daily and what is the period you must stay at that height to adapt.
2. Control the needs of your body At altitude, the celeb acts slower, so it is important that you drink, eat, wrap up and rest before your body asks you to. You can set drinking and eating schedules and force yourself to follow them.
3. move slow You must walk calmly and make any movement in a relaxed way.
4. Don't drink alcohol or smoke. Alcohol dehydrates the body and as we have said before, staying hydrated is one of the ways to avoid altitude sickness, so it is better not to drink alcohol. On the other hand, at certain heights you will have difficulty breathing, so it is better to avoid smoking, if the body is already having trouble in the normal way, imagine yourself smoking.
5. Wrap Yourself Up Remember that you are very high and as in the case of Peru the sun burned but did not heat, so you did not notice it and then you were burned, my lips burned ... a very strange feeling. Also, once it gets dark the temperature can drop a lot!
6. Use sunscreen, a cap or hat, and sunglasses As I said above, the sun's rays are stronger at higher altitudes, so protect yourself well.
7. Wherever you go do what you see In Peru, the locals will offer you coca leaves or, failing that, derived products (caramels, infusions, ...), to avoid altitude sickness. If they offer it to you, they who are used to it, is that it will be a good solution against altitude sickness. Coca has been used for thousands of years among indigenous people and its properties to treat altitude sickness are very good. We opt for the infusions, they offer them to you anywhere, in a bag as if it were chamomile or directly the leaves in hot water, and for the coca candies that you can buy in any food or souvenir store. The other option is to directly chew the sheet. You should chew them and place them on the side of your mouth. You do not have to swallow them, just leave them there while they secrete their juice, as they told me it is not the most pleasant flavor in the world and it also stains the teeth, so for me the best option is the first.
8. Pills for soroche They can be bought without a prescription in most countries and should be taken before starting to gain height, continuing with one pill every 12 hours. They help blood supply and improve respiratory capacity. You can also take an anti-inflammatory or aspirin to calm the headache that height can cause you, in the latter case it is not very good, since aspirin eliminates the effects but not altitude sickness and maybe by not treating it, because you do not see its effects, the consequences may be worse. In our case, we did not take these pills, as I said at the beginning I thought that altitude sickness was not going to happen to me, but what I did take was an ibuprofen that alleviated the horrible headache on the second day. In my case, as from the second day we started to lose height I didn't take any more pills and I didn't feel that headache anymore.
9. Travel accompanied and with someone who knows the area If you venture into the mountains and do not have much experience, it is recommended that you be accompanied. So, in case of an emergency or you experience the symptoms of altitude sickness, you will have someone to lean on. We did not have this problem, we went with a guide who helped us in the adaptation and reassured us a lot with his advice.
10. Adapt your diet Eat plenty of carbohydrates that are easily digestible in small doses, such as fruit or potatoes, and, as I said in another tip, it is important to stay hydrated.
11. And finally, if you have any chronic disease, consult your doctor Also check how height will affect the medications you take regularly. And here are the tips to overcome altitude sickness and how I managed it on my travel to Peru, but remember that the main advice is to act with your head and not do crazy things.