AMS – Acute mountain sickness

Acute mountain sickness is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, or travelers at high altitudes, usually above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters).

Acute mountain sickness is caused by reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes.

The faster you climb to a high altitude, the more likely you will get acute mountain sickness.

You are at higher risk for acute mountain sickness if:

  • You live at or near sea level and travel to a high altitude
  • You have had the illness before

Keys to preventing acute mountain sickness include:

  • Climb the mountain gradually
  • Stop for a day or two of rest for every 2,000 feet (600 meters) above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters)
  • Sleep at a lower altitude when possible
  • Learn how to recognize early symptoms of mountain sickness

While climbing:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Eat regular meals, high in carbohydrates

You should avoid high altitudes if you have heart or lung disease.

AMS can be an acute problem on hills and so don’t ignore it. The only way to overcome AMS is to acclimatize well. And for that the thumb rule is to ride high and sleep low. Drinks lots of water and eat food on time even if you’re not hungry. Also keep a stock of chocolates, glucose or other high energy food with you.

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