Q&A on Tibet travel: high altitude sickness

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What do you need to know when you come to Tibet for the first time? Here are some tips for the first -timers.

1.) Do I need to do exercises before going to Tibet?

A: The thing people are most worried about when traveling to Tibet is the altitude sickness. Be sure to rest a week before you travel and do not do more exercises.

2.) Who should not go Tibet?

A: The environment of the Tibetan Plateau requires good physical conditions. Those with the following types of diseases should be particularly cautious:

i. Individuals with cardiac, blood or cerebrovascular diseases.

ii. Individuals with any kind of respiratory sickness.

iii. Individuals with epilepsy, schizophrenia, or uncontrolled diabetes.

iv. Individuals who have suffered from high altitude sickness, edema, cerebral edema, or high altitude cardiac illness.

v. Women in late stage pregnancy

vi. Individuals who are seriously ill, are running a fever or have respiratory infections.

3.) What are the symptoms of high altitude sickness?

A: The effects of high altitude sickness vary from person to person depending on one's own physical conditions, ranging anywhere between the mild to the severe.

Minor effects may include headache, ringing ear, asthma, bodily fatigue, and insomnia, all of which will usually naturally dissipate; severe effects may include profuse vomiting, facial discoloration, and diarrhea. In these sorts of situations it is best to take medication or seek medical attention in order to avoid serious detriment to one's health.

4.) How can I prevent and alleviate the effects of high altitude sickness?

A: There are many options for high altitude sickness medication. The most well known are roseroot, which is available in tablet, liquid and dissolving powder form. The medicines should be taken about 10 days prior to traveling to Tibet, and they will not be very effective if taken after arrival.

Other ways to the alleviate elevation sickness include taking American ginseng, or inosine tablets/liquid, Bufferin or glucose for headaches. In the wake of elevation sickness, it's important to rest, reduce body movement and strain and eat/drink light and clear foods/liquids. If the symptoms are serious, one can inhale oxygen.

5.) Why can't I go to Tibet if I have a cold?

A: When you have a cold, the lungs and trachea are enflamed, bodily resistance is low, the air is both thin and dry and a cold can easily degrade into pneumonia, pulmonary edema or bronchitis. If you have a cold, it is best to recover completely before heading out on your trip.