Altitude sickness (also known as acute mountain sickness) is a body reaction to the low pressure of oxygen at high altitude. Normally it occurs above 2400 meters. Tibet’s average altitude ranges from 4000 to 5000 meters. So you are likely to encounter altitude sickness when you travel there. The symptoms include headache, short of breathe, nausea, anorexia, light fever, dizziness and lacking in strength. Commonly speaking, men have bigger chance in suffering from altitude sickness than women; people who work out regularly will be affected more easily than those who don’t.
There are medicines to help you avoid or ease altitude sickness. Hongjingtian (Chinese written: 红景天) and Gaoyuanan (Chinese written: 高原安) are commonly used. You can find them in normal drug stores in China. Hongjingtian should be taken about 10 days before your arrival at Tibet. Gaoyuanan should be taken after your arrival. In addition, ginseng tablets and Nuodikang capsules can deal with fatigue; Bufferin can ease headache caused by high altitude.
When you arrive at Tibet, we advise you not to walk too fast, or run, or do any kinds excessive exercises for the first 1 to 2 days. Eating and drinking too much, alcohol consumption, and smoking should also be avoided during this period.
You should eat more vegetables and fruits, drink adequate amount of water, and keep warm. One very important notice: don’t rely on oxygen inhalers or any similar devices as soon as you feel something wrong. Give yourself time to get used to the high altitude.
Light altitude sickness is better to be overcome by yourself. Rest more, reduce activities, maintain a healthy diet and take medicine. Serious one can be treated by the doctor. In Tibet, big towns and cities are equaled with hospital or health center. In extreme circumstances such as swollen body part, high fever, or pulmonary edema, one must receive treatment in the hospital and is advised to leave Tibet as soon as possible. Lhasa has flights leaving Tibet every day. Commonly, the altitude sickness will be gone in no time when the patient board the airplane or get back to normal altitude.
Generally speaking, adaptive person can overcome altitude sickness in 1 to 2 days. For those who are less adaptive, it will take 3 to 7 days. By the way, buttered tea (a traditional Tibetan drink) is effective against altitude sickness. If you
As a matter of fact, unless you are expecting a baby very soon or in serious health condition, you are fit to go Tibet. If you have any doubt, always consult your doctor before making the trip.