Altitude sickness, or known as soroche in the Andes, is an illness that affects some tourists who visit Cusco, especially tourists who come from places close to the sea.
Cusco, a city located at 3350 meters above sea level, is considered the most touristic city in Peru. Altitude sickness is caused by lack of oxygen and the symptoms can appear from 2500 meters above sea level. They are an average of 30% of travelers who feel symptoms from 3000 masl.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS SYMPTOMS:
A throbbing headache is felt due to poor oxygenation, capillary pressure increases and swelling of the head causing pain.
Most people experience this symptom when they begin to pass 3,000 meters.
If you take a walk it is important to walk slowly, because if we accelerate, we will feel general fatigue in the body, this due to the lack of oxygen.
NAUSEA AND VOMITING:
Pressure on the head will cause dizziness, nausea, even vomiting. This also causes people who feel these symptoms to have a loss of appetite.
SWELLING IN HANDS AND FEET:
A common symptom that will disappear as we acclimatize to the altitude.
In summary, the symptoms are compared to a hangover but without having drunk alcohol. You may feel like you are drunk, accompanied by vertigo.
Be aware that there are symptoms that can be more serious such as:
- Chest tightness
- Trouble breathing
- choking cough
- retinal bleeding
These symptoms could appear at the time of beginning the ascents and also between 6-12 hours after reaching high altitudes. Sometimes they are delayed up to 24 hours.
The severity will depend on:
- The height reached
- The speed with you can get there
- The physical activity
These symptoms usually disappear when descending to lower points.
TOURISTS WHO CANNOT BE AT HIGH ALTITUDE:
It must be mentioned that not all tourists are suitable to ascend to high altitude places such as the Rainbow Mountain or the Humantay Lagoon, it is not recommended for tourists with:
- Pulmonary hypertension
- chronic lung disease
- spontaneous pneumothorax
- night apnea syndrome
- uncontrolled epilepsy
- Angina pectoris
- uncontrolled asthma
- History of pulmonary and cerebral edema
- Heart problems
- thromboembolic disease
- sickle cell
RECOMMENDATIONS TO PREVENT ALTITUDE SICKNESS OR SOROCHE ON YOUR TRIPS:
Soroche or altitude sickness does not depend on the age, sex, or physical condition of the person, to say that even people who have good physical activity or experienced athletes can suffer from it. To avoid it, it is necessary:
- If you have high-altitude routes in your itinerary, it is best to hire an authorized travel agency. Since they will always be aware about all your travel itinerary.
- In Peru, we have cities have many tourist attractions that are located above 2500 meters above sea level, these are: Ancash, Puno, Arequipa and Cusco, so it is always recommended to carry some pills, there is a pill called Sorojchi Pills, it will be a great help to reduce symptoms.
- A correct acclimatization before starting the ascents to extreme heights. In Cusco, it is recommended to be between 2 and 3 days before doing some type of trek at 3000 or 5000 meters of altitude.
- A dose of Acetazolamide during the ascent and another of Dexamethasone to treat symptoms are also helpful. Although these medications are recommended for extreme emergency uses. Note that the medications are not to prevent the descent, if the symptoms continue, it is important that the client begins a slow descent.
- Chewing the coca leaves (do not swallow them, just ingest the liquid that comes out of the leaves when you chew them) or drink them in an infusion will also help prevent altitude sickness.
- It is very important to drink plenty of fluids before and during the trip.
- When visiting high cities, it is very important to eat a balanced diet, at least for the first few days, since digestion becomes too slow and this can cause other pains.
If you are a tourist who visits us from places that are above sea level or at low altitudes, what you have to do is:
1. Take a pill during the flight to Cusco
2. In Cusco, after your transfer to the hotel, consume Coca tea without sugar (do not consume it at night, it can take away your sleep).
3. Eat light at least on days 1 and 2 for a fast and correct acclimatization.
4. Consume enough liquid
5. Begin your itinerary with smooth routes, the normal thing to do on arrival is to start with a city tour, a sacred valley, Machu Picchu and always leave the hikes for the last days, the most popular being Humantay Lake (The hike starts at 3890 masl and ascends to 4200 masl and The Rainbow Mountain(The hike starts at 4623 masl and ascends to 5036 masl)
6. Manage your body in the correct way, don’t let it manage you!
Sometimes, there are many people who cannot enjoy their trips due to this altitude sickness due to the discomfort it can cause. Inca Peru Travel, has the staff and trained guides to make your trip painless. We prepare itineraries in an ascending way, which means that you will visit the high altitude places and the last days, in addition to this, our guides are trained and always travel with a first aid kit and an emergency oxygen bottle for any inconvenience.