How to survive altitude sickness

How to survive altitude sickness

Altitude sickness can be an incredibly dangerous illness, if you have very severe symptoms this blog is not for you… the hospital is. It can also be very mild, with most people suffering from headaches and shortness of breath. Again this blog is not for you, a paracetamol and a lie down are for you. This blog is for those in-between, the ones with the fevers and the lethargy and the sickness and the, dare I say it, diarrhoea. This is for the people who can’t leave the comfort of their bed/toilet. This blog is for the few of us that really suffer from altitude sickness (again, excluding the afore mentioned seriously ill who MUST go to hospital).

So, for the people still applicable, here are my top tips for surviving altitude sickness.

  1. Drink plenty of coca tea or hot water – Peruvians swear by coca tea but the friendly owner of Home Sweet Home hostel in Cusco advised me to drink hot water, I don’t know why or how, but it really did make me feel more human.
  2. Super soft toilet paper – for reasons I won’t go into.
  3. Water – you will not want to drink juice.
  4. Ibuprofen to reduce the fever – and it will probably go a tiny way to prevent/reduce brain swelling too… although you should probably check this theory with an actual doctor.
  5. The NHS website – for those of you who aren’t familiar, it is a comprehensive website that offers advice on a wide range of illnesses and their treatments – just as we were starting to think I needed to go back down the mountain (everyone in Peru gives you 24 hours before they panic), the NHS website gave me another 24-48 to get better.
  6. Spaghetti – turns out it’s the most palatable food substance when you can think of nothing worse than eating.
  7. A Tim – this is not always possible so invest in a place with wifi when at altitude, at least then you can Skype your mum if you’re feeling especially in need. After all there’s nothing more comforting than being told to ‘man up,’ and ‘you should try childbirth.’
  8. A tv series – again not always possible but if you have any kind of media player, make sure you have a comedy series or two. Fortunately, we’d nabbed a load of series’ from Tatch in Hanoi so I enjoyed Only Fools and Horses and an Ozzie show called Summer Hights High.
  9. A really comfy bed. I slept for 36 hours almost solidly… although I think this would have occurred on a concrete floor in a blizzard as I have no recollection of ‘the day’.
  10. A private bathroom – I could not have survived having to make myself decent before traipsing between my room and a shared bathroom, it took all my strength just to move from my bed to the bathroom.

Most of all, make sure you tell someone. Don’t be ill alone, altitude sickness can get very serious so even if you only have very mild symtoms tell someone. That way they’ll bring you a cup of tea at the very least if they don’t see you for a while.

Good luck fellow sufferers, you’ll be well again soon… ish!

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