Tibet : Altitude Sickness

No special inoculations are required but because 0f Tibet's high altitude travellers with a pre-existing problem of heart, lungs or anemia should consult a doctor before even thinking about a visit. Most other travellers, once they are acclimatized, rarely suffer more than mild discomfort from the altitude.

Over exertion seems to contribute to mountain sickness and dehydration may be a predis-posing factor. Sensible precautions should include:

Stick to a schedule of mild activity and rest for the first two days.

Drink plenty of fluids. Two to five liters a day are recommended to maintain clear, copious urine.

Don't smoke, if you are a chronic smoker, keep it to a minimum.

Avoid sedatives such as sleeping medicine or tranquillizers. They tend to depress respiration and limit oxygen intake.

DIAMOX (acetazolamide), a mild diuretic which stimulates oxygen intake, is used by doctors for climbers making sudden ascents. This is prescription drug. One 250 mg. tablet taken on the plane from Chengdu or Kathmandu and another at bedtime the first night in Lhasa' may help to forestall discomfort for people known to be susceptible to mountain sickness. Consult a doctor.

It is not unusual to wake up at night at high altitudes gasping for breath. Don't panic ! This complaint, known as "Periodic Breathing", is normally quite harmless, caused by a change in the control of breathing within the brain while you sleep. Normal breathing can be quickly re-established by relaxation, rhythmic deep-breathing, and the understanding that there is nothing to worry about.

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