Kailash Manasarovar yatra being the most sacred pilgrimage, despite the unpredictable harsh conditions hundreds go on this yatra. It is located 5000m / 18000 ft above sea level. Around 40%-50% of the yatris are affected by altitude sickness. A brief outline helps one to understand and analyze the body and prepare for the yatra. It is not just trekking it’s a pilgrimage it is unique in itself. Here the individual experiences nature’s extremities i.e. it is freezing, with sunlight, strong wind and at times rain are experienced simultaneously, and there is no shelter / trees. With a positive mental attitude one must accept Mother Nature and be one with her.
Getting Prepared :
Plan your trip itinerary to allow proper rest period during ascent for acclimatization.
Must be prepared with appropriate shoes and warm clothes (thermals, sweaters) and Jackets.
To withstand the extremities, train your body. 1 hour of brisk walking daily along with pranayam (trained by qualified person). You must start this regime 6 months prior to your trip.
Blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride, urea and creatinine, Blood Pressure and ECG must be checked 6 months prior to your trip. Inculcate a habit of taking multi-vitamins; Evion 400 & Calcium tablets 3 months prior to your trip. Although it is not mandatory, this helps during the ascent.
Yatri’s with Asthma or breathing problems and high blood pressure,recent injuries, are advised to avoid the yatra until they are fit.
High altitude: 5000ft to 11500 ft
Very high altitude: 11500ft to 18000ft
As altitude increases, atmospheric pressure decreases while the percentage of Oxygen remains constant; the pressure of the oxygen is low; oxygen is thinner; and is the cause of altitude sickness, most people can easily climb to 1500-2000m in 1day, without any problems. 40% of yatris develop problems when they reach 3000m. The distance climbed (ascent), altitude and rest or acclimatization are the factors influencing Altitude sickness.
High Altitude illness includes :
Acute Mountain sickness
High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE)
High altitude cerebral edema (HACE)
The symptoms vary from one individual to another. Head ache is commonly presented. Burning or watery eyes, giddiness, dryness in nose, nasal bleed, and sleep disruption are seen. Fatigue is common. Gastrointestinal symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and distension of abdomen.
Life threatening conditions like HAPE shows symptoms like breathlessness at rest, persistent coughing, cyanosis (blue tinge in finger tips) fever etc…
HACE symptoms are difficulty in walking (gait impairment), irritability lethargy, drowsiness, mental status altered, stupor, coma in these circumstances giving oxygen , descending back are the only options. Steroids do help during descent if doctors accompany you.
Medicines required :
For pain relief - Hifenac (aciclofinac sodium).
Anti allergics - Deslor/Allegra 120
Antiemitics - ondansetron - tablet and injections
Glucose, ORS, Paracetamol
High blood pressure medicines
Antibiotics are to be carried by doctor’s advice
Sunscreen with SPF 50
Diamox tablet 250mg once daily to be started one day before acclimatization i.e. two days before the ascent, better taken in the morning and to be taken until one returns to base camp. Side effect is tingling sensation in the body so drink sufficient water and take Multivitamin tablets daily.
I would like to conclude by saying medical care is very essential during the pilgrimage to experience it to the fullest. Hence preparation, care and optimistic approach is very important. Identifying your physical ailments and expressing the same to the co-yatris/ friends and taking prompt decisions is a must. When the physical body is not in a position to continue becoming emotional and forcing yourself is wrong.