Climbing mountains has become one of the most popular hobbies for teenagers in recent years. However, did you know that climbing that is not accompanied by careful preparation can actually endanger climbers? One of the conditions that can threaten safety while climbing is acute mountain sickness (AMS).

AMS or what is often referred to as mountain disease can occur when climbers are at a certain altitude or spend the night. About 25{bb0d14df601a1627ab5f31ed126a79d3c839d0f8d0404f1f3f1fa7f4f2699f35} of these mountain diseases are experienced when climbers are at an altitude of 2400 meters above sea level (masl), and about 40-50{bb0d14df601a1627ab5f31ed126a79d3c839d0f8d0404f1f3f1fa7f4f2699f35} occur when climbers are at an altitude of 3000 masl. This condition can occur in old and young, male or female, although some studies have stated that women are more often affected than men. This condition is caused by decreased oxygen levels and reduced air pressure when climbing to a higher place.

What puts me at risk for acute mountain sickness?

Until now there is no diagnostic tool that can predict with certainty the incidence of this mountain disease, but the incidence of this disease usually increases when the following risk factors are found:

• Have a history of previous AMS
• Drinking alcohol or excessive activity when the body has not adapted to height
• Climbing too fast more than 2700 masl in 1 day
• Medical condition
• Not used to being at high altitudes

Symptoms of acute mountain sickness

Symptoms and signs of AMS usually appear within a few hours to 1 day, the symptoms can range from mild to severe. signs if you have AMS:

• Headache
• Dizzy
• Tired
• Can not sleep (often wake up during sleep)
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting

If not treated properly, this AMS can progress to a worse condition, in the form of brain edema and pulmonary edema. In conditions of edema there is a buildup of fluid, so that the function of these organs is disturbed. A sign of edema in the lungs is that the patient feels tight or difficult to breathe, and the condition is often exacerbated by sleeping positions, and relieved by sitting or standing. While brain edema is usually characterized by feelings of weakness, dizziness, decreased consciousness that can easily be recognized by gossiping talk or sufferers who seem to nod off a lot, like drunken people or in some cases like people who are possessed.

What should be done when symptoms of acute mountain sickness appear?

If you find the signs and symptoms above, be aware, you or your climbing partner may be experiencing an AMS attack. Pausing the climb is an effective therapy for AMS, allowing your body to rest and get used to oxygen levels and low air pressure at high altitudes. When resting, it is not recommended that you drink alcohol or engage in excessive activity.

The symptoms above will usually improve as the climber’s body condition has adapted, but if within 24-48 hours the condition does not improve or gets worse, the climber must go down the mountain. Most climbers feel that the symptoms get better when they descend as high as 500-800 masl, but if conditions remain unchanged, climbers are advised to descend to the base camp and ask the medical team for help there.
Medicines that can be used to treat symptoms of acute mountain sickness

Medicines that can be given to reduce AMS symptoms include paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce pain or dizziness, ondansetron or promethazin to reduce nausea and vomiting. Acetazolamide and dexamethason are drugs that are often used both for the prevention and treatment of AMS. Oxygen can also be given when symptoms are severe, and can be stopped when symptoms improve. Consult with your doctor first about whether or not the use of the above therapies is necessary and the recommended dosage.

How can you prevent acute mountain sickness when climbing a mountain?

Early detection and prompt treatment are essential for AMS. AMS that is not handled properly can be fatal, even to the point of death. The position of the sufferer on the mountain is also a challenge because of the difficult terrain and the absence of a communication network. Therefore, it would be nice if climbers know tips to prevent this mountain disease.

• Ascend slowly, so the body can adapt.
• If you live in a place with an altitude below 1500 masl, avoid sleeping at an altitude above 2800 masl on the first night.
• Opening the tent in a lower place. Climbers are of course allowed to climb to the top if they feel safe, but for the night, it is advisable to find a lower place.
• Staying in a place with an altitude of about 1500 meters above sea level for several days or weeks before climbing can help you to climb faster.