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Signs and Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

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Signs and Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

You are traveling to Cusco. And it is necessary that you know that it is the altitude sickness, the soroche or the apunamiento. What are your symptoms, what to do to prevent it. 

Because Cusco is 3,399 meters above sea level and Machu Picchu at 2530 meters above sea level. 

All those who already traveled, warn you about the soroche or the altitude sickness. 

You do not have a single idea of what it is ... or that it had so many synonyms ... 

But that's what we are for. To help you decipher ... what is altitude sickness? How to fight the soroche? How to prevent altitude sickness? 


Altitude sickness is included in a group of diseases related to height, such as pulmonary edema and high altitude cerebral edema. 

Altitude sickness or mountain sickness, acute mountain sickness, soroche, apunamiento, páramo disease is a set of nonspecific symptoms that occur at altitudes higher than 2500 m in unaccustomed individuals, with a habitual delay of 4-12 h after of arrival at a new altitude. 


Sicknesses and Symptoms 

They tend to be more pronounced after the first night spent at a new altitude and resolve spontaneously when appropriate measures are taken. 


  • The main symptom is headache. 


Additional symptoms are:


  • Loss of appetite 
  • Sickness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Insomnia 


Progression of symptoms, including nausea and headache that do not respond to first-line antiemetics and analgesics, and increased fatigue may indicate progression to more severe forms, such as cerebral edema or acute pulmonary edema, both entities that endanger life. 


Serious forms of diseases related to height 

Acute pulmonary edema includes symptoms of shortness of breath at rest, persistent cough, intolerance to exercise, and possibly the production of pink foamy sputum. 

High altitude cerebral edema is defined as the presence of symptoms of altitude sickness with difficulty walking, confused or drowsy mental state or severe lethargy. 

If you notice any of these last symptoms in you or in any of the members that accompany you, the most important thing is to stop and evaluate your situation. 

Descending to a lower altitude is the first priority when the disease of high altitude appears. 

What can you do to prevent Altitude Sickness?  

To our fate, physiologists investigating body changes have studied for decades reliable strategies to prevent altitude sickness. 

However, we must bear in mind that certain people who could have a good experience at a certain height, may present symptoms at another time, at a similar height. We do not know why, but it is good to take it into account. 

So if you plan to travel to a place with a certain height, it is better to take general health precautions that will reduce your chances of experiencing any symptoms related to diseases of altitude sickness. 


Let's see then, which are: 




  • Get fit. 
  • Get organized: If you can afford a day or two more during the trip so that you and the members of your group can adjust to the effect of greater heights. 
  • Take a preliminary check: A medical consultation is useful before the trip, especially if you or some of your companions have any comorbidity. (respiratory problems, heart or joint problems). In addition to the consultation, you can take advantage of it to verify your vaccination schedule (adults still need vaccines, in case you ask) or to prescribe in advance useful medications if symptoms of altitude sickness appear. A medical consultation is useful before your trip. 




  • Hidratate: Dehydration decreases the body's ability to acclimate at high altitude. Sadly many travelers arrive at their destination after dehydrated travel hours. Excessive ingestion of caffeine and alcohol is common during the trip and this produces a low blood volume state. Even before your trip begins, drinking 2-3 liters of water per day can prepare your body to reach higher elevations. Keep a 1-liter bottle of water when you travel, and drink as often as possible. As much as possible try to reduce the consumption of caffeine and alcohol before your trip, which will decrease the chances of reaching dehydrated height. By the way, as for the meals, eat light. Easy to digest meals, have snacks or sandwiches by hand. I preferred the simple flavors; Sometimes being in height, spicy food can cause nausea. 
  • Rest well: Long domestic and international trips often interrupt normal sleep schedules. Arriving tired and dehydrated at altitude creates a place for the symptoms of altitude sickness to start appearing, if you start your high-effort activities immediately upon arrival. 
  • Protect yourself from the sun or the cold: hats, sunscreen, sunglasses if it's hot. Hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, coats if it's cold. 
  • Inform yourself: Many of the people who start presenting symptoms lack basic knowledge about high altitude regions, or ignore or underestimate the obvious symptoms of altitude sickness. Make yourself an Altitude Sickness Test.


How To Cure Altitude Sickness 

There is a large amount of medication that can be used in the prevention of altitude sickness disease. However, pharmacological prophylaxis is not necessary in all high altitude travelers, but must be initiated on the basis of an assessment of the risk of the disease associated with height, the characteristics of the planned ascent, such as the height of advanced work , the number of planned rest days, etc. 

Sorojchi pills: More than one person who is already traveling, will recommend them. And once in Peru, you will see its advertising in more than one place. According to the company's website, these pills are made to PREVENT and TRY. The symptoms of altitude sickness. It is composed of Aspirin (Acetylsalicylic Acid 325 mg) salpfen and a little caffeine. It is recommended to take an hour before reaching high places, and continue taking one capsule every eight hours during the stay in those places. 


Mild Altitude Sickness Remedies 

Are there any natural pharmacological measures available to combat it?


  • Gingko Bilboa: improves circulation and reduces blood pressure. Studies have not yet shown that Gingko is better than a placebo, but some people find it a useful herbal agent to prevent altitude sickness. 
  • Vitamin C: high doses of vitamin C, or other antioxidant agents can help reduce the circulating volume of free radicals during acclimation. The scientific evidence in this regard is somewhat limited, however, these vitamins can work as an excellent support for the irregular diet and lifestyle of these trips. 
  • Coca Tea: or in the form of leaves to chew directly. People from the original Andean people have used coca leaves (Erythroxylon coca and related species) for centuries to improve their physical performance. Are you worried about having cocaine? The effectiveness of coca tea or in its chewable form is related to the release of flavonoids and not due to the release of cocaine. The amount of cocaine that is released in the process of chewing coca leaves is extremely small and is unlikely to have any physiological effect. More studies are being done on the effects of flavonoids. It is also planned to conduct field experiments in a much larger population over a longer period of time to further evaluate this problem.


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