Altitude Sickness Follow-Up

The first time I got sick was in the middle of the night at Nam Tso Lake. We had driven directly from Lhasa at 3,700 m (12,200 feet) to Nam Tso Lake at 4,800 m (15,800 feet) for an overnight stay. This was way too much of a climb – a big no no when it comes to do’s and don’t’s of avoiding altitude sickness (although, I was the only one affected in our group of six.) The first few hours after arriving, I was completely fine and hiking around. But by 1:30 in the morning, I was wide awake and starting to get nauseous. This condition lasted throughout the night and most of the next day.

Could I have avoided getting sick by taking Diamox, a drug that can help prevent altitude sickness? I guess not because I actually had taken it. I wasn’t quite sure at first whether the nausea and the sleeplessness were a result of altitude sickness or of the Diamox (whose side effects include those symptoms). When we went to Everest Base camp at 5,200 m (17,160 feet), I had a chance to test it out. I didn’t take any Diamox and, after a few hours there, got nauseous again. Damn it! The worst part was that I couldn’t eat anything – and Tony is still talking about those amazing pancakes.

So what does that mean? It seems like, I did suffer from altitude sickness, with or without Diamox (I pretty much ruled out food poisoning or such because we all shared the same meals). After this “scientific” experiment, I decided to not take Diamox as a preventative anymore because I felt it didn’t do much for me (of course, for all I know, I could have been much worse off). I did, however, keep it in mind as treatment for severe altitude sickness. Luckily, after our Everest trip, I never got sick again – not even after going over the 5,600 m (18,400 feet) pass during the Mount Kailash kora. I guess I finally acclimated.

If you didn’t read it, check out my posting on altitude sickness Running Out of Air

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