Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness is among of illness common at higher elevation in the mountain. many people experience this because of little time for acclimatization on mountain or changing on the environment condition. A overall regulation on in fact big mountains like this is that you should not mostly rise more than 300 meters per day and for each 1000 meters that you do climb you should take a break day. Though the foremost routes on Kilimanjaro are intended to follow the same basic ideologies and eventually they all fail to meet these principles.
Different other risky peaks such as those in the Himalayas, the peak of Kilimanjaro is approached in just a few days, exit very little time for the body to regulate. This is what makes Kilimanjaro such a exceptional, tough and possibly risky challenge.
In hiking terms, mountain height above sea level is divided into three regions…
High elevation: 2400m to 4200m
This region covers the common of all hikes, excluding the first half day on some of the lower early routes. Here you can expect to be extremely obstructed by the effects of altitude in terms of workload and endurances and you may start to sense the symptoms of sickness such as headaches and nausea.
Very high elevation: 4200m to 5400m
This region covers the night before peak attempt on all routes and, on better routes, one or two adaptation treks on earlier days. Here the effects of altitude are beginning to develop more acute; hiking at anything other than a snail’s pace is rapidly exhausting. Most people will now be feeling contrary signs unless they are taking extra oxygen. Some people cannot switch to this elevation at all and will essential to be removed from the mountain.
Extreme elevation: above 5400m
This region covers much of the peak attempt, with Uhuru Peak at 5895m. At these heights your body is solely weakening, if you stay up here too long deprived of oxygen you will die. Unless you have additional oxygen you are basically making a run for the peak in order to get down before you submit to the adverse effects. If you have oxygen then you can take your time and will be more possible to obviously appreciate what is going on.
Altitude Sickness are categorized as follows
There are three different forms of altitude sickness. The first is the utmost common and can frequently be managed without option to withdrawal from the mountain. The other two are greatly more severe and tend to lead to instant removal from the mountain …
During a hiking Kilimanjaro it is to be expected that more than 75% of trekkers will experience at least some form of slight altitude sickness caused by a failure of the body to acclimatize rapidly sufficient to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at an increased altitude.
This kind of altitude sickness is recognized as altoxia, a term which is used nearly solely on Kilimanjaro, since this is the only commonly hiked mountain where these extreme altitudes are met so rapidly.
Altoxia is most frequently experienced on the summit approach, but can also occur earlier in a hike, especially during day treks to higher elevations, in which case it should retreat as the hike overnights at a lower altitude.
Altoxia can have many different signs, the most common being headaches, light headedness, nausea, loss of hunger, vomiting and a mild inflammation of the face, ankles and fingers. These signs can be rather unfriendly, add a new dimension to the adversity faced by trekkers and can really take the shine off the experience. Though, in this slight form, Altoxia does not usually have severe consequences and typically vanishes within 48 hours.
The signs of altoxia are commonly dismissed or even removed by use of an ALTOX Personal Oxygen System or by taking Diamox.
If the signs of altoxia develop or severe, then there is a risk of serious mountain sickness developing. This is a much more severe form than altoxia and must be treated by instant removal to lower altitudes.
There are two different forms of this illness …
HAPE: High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema: “water in the lungs”
High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema is categorized by breathing difficulty at rest, very high beat, crackling sound in the chest and coughing of pink fluid (sputum). This condition is quickly lethal unless the loss experiences immediate descent. There are no drugs to cure and no option of re-ascent following an incident.
HACE: High Altitude Cerebral Oedema: “swelling of the brain”
High Altitude Cerebral Oedema is a combination of two or more of the following: Very severe headache, severe loss of balance, mental misperception and frequent vomiting. This disorder is fast fatal unless the casualty experiences immediate descent. There are no drugs to cure and no prospect of re-ascent following an episode.
Trekkers have to not be too frightened by all this talk, but it is vital to recognize that if you push on or stay at same altitude with AMS, HAPE or HACE then you will perhaps die. People do. The only correct resolution is instant descent.
Our guides are all very experienced in dealing with the complications of altitude. It may be essential for you to go downhill to a lower altitude until you improve or even to abandon the hike in the interest of safety. The choice of the guide in such circumstances is final.
Avoiding altitude sickness
There are seven foremost aspects that affect the occurrence and harshness of Kilimanjaro altitude sickness…
1. Rate of climb
2. Altitude reached
3. Extent of exposure
4. Level of exertion
5. Hydration and diet
6. Inherent physiological vulnerability
7. Use of oxygen systems or drugs
The following three techniques are commonly used to assist acclimatization…
High water consumption: A fluid intake of 4 to 5 liters per day is suggested. Fluid intake recovers circulation and most other bodily functions, but does not increase fluid escape from the body. Thirst should not be an sign of appropriate fluid intake, if your urine is clear then you are drinking enough.
Walk slow: Step is a serious factor on all routes. Unless there is a very steep uphill section your breathing speed should be the same as if you were walking down a highway. If you cannot hold a exchange you are walking too fast. Breathing through the nose for the first 2 days of the hike will limit the step. Walk “gently” letting your knees to gradually cushion each pace. “Pole pole” … slowly slowly … is the slogan that will repeat around your head as it is repeated to you by the Kilimanjaro guides.
Walk high sleep low: If you have sufficient vigor and are not sense the effects of altitude, then you might take an afternoon wander additional up the mountain before descending to sleep. All our routes already include these optional adaptation walks whenever possible.
ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems
An ALTOX Personal Oxygen System is a set of gear which delivers a low dosage oxygen supply to a trekker on the mountain.
The use of such a system greatly decreases the effects of altoxia, increases your chances of summit feat and should increase your enjoyment of the experience.
All trekkers using an ALTOX Personal Oxygen System have to experience substantial relief from the signs of extreme altitude, have better energy and experience less of the mental haziness than can weaken the summit experience.
On the Rongai route the benefits of oxygen are chiefly noticeable. Before we started to use ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems our success rate to Gillman’s Point on the crater rim was 87%, but only 69% went on to reach Uhuru Peak, 19% choosing to go back. The use of ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems has already increased the summit percentage to 81%, an improvement of 13%. We are sure that nearly all trekkers on these shorter routes are significantly advantaged by using an ALTOX Personal Oxygen System.
On longer Kilimanjaro routes such as Shira, Lemosho and North, which are mostly used by trekkers who are fitting and more experienced at high altitude trailing, and where the trekkers have more days to familiarize to altitude, the benefits of an ALTOX Personal Oxygen System are to some extent less pronounced, but are still significant.
It is very vital to note that we cannot promise the accessibility of ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems. In peak season we occasionally do not have enough systems to meet demand; the finances making it impossible for us to stock in satisfactory numbers. It is therefore vital that you book as far in advance as possible in order to maximize your chances.
Although these days it is becoming gradually infrequent for us to not mention the use of ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems to a group of trekkers, it has been such a success story and we are satisfied to be playing our part.”
As a final footnote to this segment, we would like to stress that around 36% of our trekkers do endure to head up Kilimanjaro without oxygen systems. A straw poll around our office quiet tells that a similar amount of us would still prefer to attempt the mountain without, though most of us would still take a kit along for back-up and emergency use. Of course the extra cost is a substantial factor for some trekkers. So if you chose not to take oxygen then we are more than happy to support you in that decision.
In other case the use of Diamox on our hikes has been extremely reduced since the introduction of ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems. Diamox is a medicine which can be taken to support the body by improving the competence with which oxygen can be absorbed from the thin air. There is no arguing the effectiveness of the drug. There is however a big debate as to whether and how Diamox should be used.
There are three ways to use Diamox when trekking Kilimanjaro…
The first way is to use it as a preventive throughout the tour starting from the day before the climb. The straight argument against doing this is that it conceals the signs of body deficit, thus increasing the chances of a failure if one does occur being tragic.
The second way is to “listen to your body” until day 3 (6 day climbs) or day 4 (7 day climbs) and then, if you are not representing any severe signs, to take Diamox as directed above to enhancement your act at higher camps. The argument against is the same as previous.
The third way is to only use Diamox as a treatment for altitude sickness. This is rational, but severe signs can only be treated by removal from altitude.
We carry enough Diamox in our medical boxes for the second and third options. This has to not be taken as a suggestion of our supporting this course of act. The choice is yours and we suggest that you refer your doctor and do some background reading on the subject if you remain uncertain.
We estimate that before the introduction of ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems perhaps as high as 75% of American hikers took Diamox in some form for the duration of the hike. Of non-American climbers this number possibly dropped to 25% or lower. Most of these people now use ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems and these percentages are significantly reduced.