Part I : Prepare yourself for travelling to high elevations
It is well kown that at high elevations, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, percentage-wise, is the same as at sea level. But when barometric pressures diminish, so does the pressure of oxygen present in tissues (thereby causing Hypoxia).
This physical phenomenon explains why the quantity of oxygen molecules per breath inhaled is lower at higher elevations than it is at sea level. Faced with this type of challenge, individuals evolve acclimatization procedures that engage most of their systems: respiratory, blood & circulatory, renal, and nervous. The evolved physiological mechanisms tend to normalize the amount of oxygen in their tissues.
For there to be normal activity, an adequate supply of oxygen must first be secured. Peripheral chemoreceptors, or nerve endings, serve as sensors of the amount of oxygen that enters into the bloodstream. Nerve endings swiftly react to changes of oxygen pressure in arterial blood, and inform the nervous centers that control breathing and cardiac cycles. This information brings about a progressive increase in pulmonary ventilation, which can be observed during the first few days at high elevations (03 to 05 days). This process is called “Ventilatory Acclimatization.” Concentrations of Non-adrenaline and Adrenaline in the blood increase. This brings about a rise in cardiac frequency, regardless of whether the individual is in repose or working out.
If the exposure to high altitudes is long enough, the first adaptation strategies – respiratory and cardiovascular adjustments – give way to less strenuous mechanisms – mainly an increased production of red blood cells – that improve the transport of oxygen from the environment into the tissues. Adaptive reactions to high elevations may cause certain disorders, however, either by the over-functioning or under-functioning of the mechanisms involved in the acclimatization to high elevations.
These disorders can be avoided by following the recommendations set forth im the article about The Soroche. The time and quality of the acclimatization process varies from person to person. It has nothing to do with previous physical training, or the number of times a person has been in high elevations.
If you have to travel to elevations higher than 3,500 meters (11,480 feet) above sea level and have to stay there, it’s very important to prevent the onset of two distinctive pathologies produced by high elevations: pulmonary edema or brain edema.
These pathologies can manifest themselves in people intolerant to high elevations – mainly the first week – but can be avoided by being aware of what their initial symptoms are, and stopping them from fully developing.
MEDICATION (Always better to ask your personal doctor)
1 tablet every 12 hours, 24 hours before the trip.
Half a tablet every 12 hours until the third day in high elevations
1 tablet every 8 hours, in case of headache.
1 400 mg pill before the trip and in case of headaches that don’t lessen with Paracetamol, take one Ibuprofen every 12 hours after meals (it may produce stomach ache).
In case of continued altitude sickness, seek medical help. You must receive oxygen or be promptly removed to a lower elevation.