We live at lower altitude and when people practice exercise of climbing high altitude, it can cause uneasiness and shortness of breath. Not just climbing mountains with high elevation, even travelling from one place to another place can cause you jet lags which is also considered as altitude sickness symptoms. Natural home remedies are effective in preparing you to avoid the sickness or even after coming down to lower altitude they can help you get rid of the symptoms of high altitude sickness.
The higher you will elevate from the sea level the thinner air will become. At such high elevation amount of oxygen is minimal that can cause shortness of breath and dizziness. According to national statistic many people die while climbing high due to lack of oxygen.
Symptoms start to kick in when your body rise to higher altitude in relatively small amount of time like flying in airplane. The sickness caused by such event is commonly termed as acute mountain or altitude sickness.
What is Altitude Sickness
Our body can change its biological process according to the change in environment. Failure of Acclimatization or acclimatisation (also called acclimation or acclimatation) of human body can cause altitude sickness. Our body fail to change its behavior when there is rise in altitude, heat, pressure and oxygen.
So when human body rise in atmospherics height above the normal range th body start to react by showing up signs of weakness. According to University of Buffalo reporter most of the time brain swelling, and pulmonary edema are major problems at high altitude.
Types of Altitude Sickness
- Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): It the most common type of altitude sickness which affects more than 25% of the patients. Traveling at above 10,000 feet above the sea level can cause acute mountain sickness.
- High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): This case of environmental sickness is the acute case of AMS which got worse. People suffering from HACE must get medical attention in less than 24 hours to increase the chance of survival.
- High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): High pressure often causes swollen lungs with fluids. It cause trouble while you breath and even sound like the patients of acute bronchitis. Patients of HAPE require immediate medical attention or it can be fatal.
What Causes Altitude Sickness
When your body travels to high altitude in sort period of time then it try to adjust with new environment. When elevation is high, oxygen levels drops significantly. As a result it becomes hard to breath and its side effect remain for few days even when you are at lower elevation.
Barometric pressure increases as you fly high or climb tall hills or mountain. The air is thin and lack of oxygen push your body to the limits for survival.
According to National Geographics Network These are places that trigger altitude sickness:
- Cuzco (11,000 feet or 3,300 meters above sea level)
- Lhasa (12,100 feet or 3,650 meters high)
- The Andes, Peru
- The Matterhorn, Switzerland
- Mount Elbrus, Russia
- Cilaltépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico
- Denali, Alaska
- Everest Base Camp (17,700 feet or 5,400 meters high)
- Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet or 5,895 meters high)
Common Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
Most of the mountaineers or travelers who reach high elevation may suffer from these condition:
- Feeling pressure inside head
- Loss of coordination and disorientation
- Pallor and paleness
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Palpitation (your heart beats very fast)
- Disturbed cognitive behavior
- Increased rate of breathing
- Insomnia (You are not able to sleep at night)
- Episodes of headache and migraine
- In the case of HACE, memory loss or confusion, severe tiredness, and confusion while walking.
- In the case of HAPE, frequent coughing, recurring shortness of breath, wheezing, feeling of suffocation, drowsiness, and signs of poor cognitive reaction.
Treatments and Home Remedies For Altitude Sickness
1. Drink Plenty of Water
As you rise higher in altitude, your body will need more hydration and oxygen. At those high locations people often tend to feel weak due to lack of oxygen in body. Drinking water while you are going up will help in replenishing lost energy and provide more oxygen in blood.
Sufficient amount of liquid inside our body keep brain function in healthy condition. This minimizes the low cognitive side effects caused by increased air pressure.
Water will also help you feel better by soothing upset stomach. Many traveler’s have reported bad stomach condition during their mountaineering experience. Clear liquid dilutes stomach acid and prevent sourness or attack of acid reflux preventing vomiting.
2. Fennel Seeds An Amazing High Altitude Remedy
Fennel seeds has soothing properties that can calm down irritated stomach and prevent symptoms of acute mountain sickness such as burning sensation in stomach, vomiting, nausea and mild headache. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, fennel seeds tea is one of the best natural home remedies for high altitude sickness. Drink one cup after every time you go 300 meters higher from sea level, it can minimize the risk of developing nausea.
To make the herbal tea, you will need 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Steep the fennel seed in one cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and allow the water to cool down. Then add honey and lemon juice to this fennel seed water and drink it slowly.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care of England, the blood thinning ability of garlic makes it an effect high altitude sickness remedy. It increase the blood circulation in brain and prevent confusion and other symptoms of acute mountain sickness. It pump more oxygen in blood, thereby improving condition like mild migraine, confusion and high altitude shortness of breath.
Make sure to eat foods cooked with garlic in it. Alternatively, make some garlic soup by your own. Pour one cup of water in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon of grated garlic. Add chopped carrots, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup of chopped cabbage and 10-15 parsley leaves. Let this simmer for 5 minutes then collect it in a cup. Drink it slowly when the soup temperature has lowered down.
4. Cinnamon Is A Good Remedy For Altitude Sickness
Research has shown that cinnamon hold stomach calming properties helpful in treating altitude sickness symptoms. This spice has very exquisite taste and promote better blood circulation. Thanks to anti-inflammatory property and high amount of antioxidant, it helps defend against cognitive decline and protects brain function.
To prepare this cinnamon remedy, you will need 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and one cup of boiling water. Add the spice in this hot water and stir it until cinnamon is completely dissolved. Sip on it slowly regularly to treat altitude sickness quickly.
5. Cayenne Cream
Body stiffness is very common symptoms of altitude sickness. Cayenne pepper contains active enzyme which regulate blood and improve the muscle stiffness. Applying cream containing cayenne have been helpful in soothing neck pain and lower back pain.
Studies have shown that topical application of cayenne cream improve cellular movement where ever it is applied. It can prevent altitude sickness common symptoms such as headache, muscle stiffness and drowsiness.
Mix 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in one glass of lemon juice. Drink it regularly to keep your body warm.
6. Ginger Roots
The stomach soothing abilities of ginger makes it one of the most used home remedies for altitude sickness. Sipping of ginger tea often help combat vomiting and nausea. It contains an active compound called gingerol that can cure elevation sickness symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
You can directly chew on some ginger roots to boost your mood. Alternatively, mix 1 teaspoon of grated ginger root in one cup of lukewarm water. Add honey and parsley leaves and drink it twice a day for best results.
7. Chamomile Tea To Combat Headache
Chamomile tea is loaded with antioxidants that may play a role in lowering your risk of developing elevation diseases, headache caused from change in pressure, and helpful in treating altitude sickness.
It is a flowering herb with medicinal properties that may aid in digestion and improve your sleep. Sipping on chamomile herbal tea will provide relief from mental stress and help you cure altitude sickness efficiently.
To prepare the tea, you will need 1 tablespoon of chamomile leaf powder, honey (optional), and mint oil. Steep the leaf powder for 5 minutes in one cup of boiling water. Strain it and mix 1 teaspoon of honey and 5 drops of mint oil. Stir well and drink it when ever the symptoms trigger while traveling at higher altitudes.
8. Gingko Biloba An Ancient Altitude Sickness Remedy
Lack of oxygen in brain can adversely affect your brain function at higher altitude. Gingko biloba improves the brain toleration towards lack of oxygen which help you prevent cognitive damage.
This herb benefits the brain arteries by keeping them in functional condition. The healing properties of gingko biloba will keep your decision making ability in optimal condition even at low oxygen supply. However, it is not going to help you in long term. Its a quick fix to cure altitude sickness for limited amount of time so that you can enjoy your journey.
To make the tea, mix handful of gingko biloba leaves in one cup of boiling water. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes then strain and collect the tea. Drink it regularly to protect yourself from nausea, dizziness and confusion.
9. Honey and Lemon Juice
Lemon is rich in antioxidant that flush out free radicals from body and boost immune system due to high amount of vitamin C. On the other hand, honey is know for its healing properties such as anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, stomach soothing and antiseptic nature.
This combination of two powerful natural remedies will help you cure altitude sickness effectively.
To prepare this concoction, you will need 1 tablespoon of honey, 2 tbsp of lemon juice and water. Mix both the ingredient in one glass of lukewarm water. Drink it slowly when every you feel sick at higher altitude.
Licorice is one of the oldest and most effective home remedies for altitude sickness that calm mucus membrane of your stomach, thus lowering the stomach upset caused due to change in environmental pressure on body.
To prepare the remedy, mix 1 teaspoon of dried licorice root powder in one cup of boiling water. Allow them to steep for 10 minutes then drink it regularly.
11. Peppermint Leaf Tea
The tea prepared from the leaves of peppermint plant is another good remedy for altitude sickness after returning home from traveling by airplane or hiking. It contains antioxidant that increase the supply of oxygen in blood and remove toxins from body.
Pour one cup of water in a pot and add 10-15 dried peppermint leaves. Bring water to boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Strain it and let the solution get cold then mix 1 teaspoon of honey and one tbsp of lemon juice. Drink it twice a day after returning home from high altitudes.
Other Common Home Remedies For Treating Altitude Sickness
Try not to do workout or move much until you are well adjusted to the environment of new altitudes. Do easy work and spend time in reading books or other activities which does not require lots of body movement. Excessive movement requires more oxygen which is tough to find at higher altitudes.
Mental and Physical Fitness
Fit and healthy person are able to deal with altitude sickness in a much better way than person with poor health. Mental alertness and physical fitness is helpful in the process of acclimation. Accept the fact that their will be some health issues while traveling from places of low sea levels to high sea levels. Such acceptance is helpful in tackling those symptoms more efficiently.
Eat Digestible Food
Eating digestible foods are helpful in avoiding altitude sickness. It aid in digestion and prevent upset stomach, vomiting, nausea and possibly diarrhea. Easily digestible food require less energy in the process which keeps you strong. Home remedies combined with healthy eating habits at higher altitude can help you in dealing with its symptoms.
Take Time to Acclimate
If you just moved into a high altitude place then calm down it is normal to go through all its symptoms. Your body is just trying to adjust with this new environment. Many people freak out after going through the acclimation process. It is normal and there is nothing to worry about until you are have common symptoms. If suffering from HACE or HAPE then consult with your doctor as soon as possible.
Essential Oils For Altitude Sickness
1. Lavender Essential Oil
The sedative effect of lavender oil can be useful in curing altitude sickness symptoms such as lack of sleep or insomnia. Not just that, this purple flowering plant oil has antispasmodic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that is essential to calm down improper brain function and bad health at high altitudes.
Lavender oil is effective in calming down irritation and reduce headache caused by lack of oxygen in blood. It is not going to fix the issue permanently, but definitely helps in the process of acclimation.
How To Use Lavender Oil For Altitude Sickness:
- For quick relief, diffuse the oil with the help of essential oil diffuser or humidifier.
- Alternatively, pour 10 drops of lavender oil in one bowl of boiling water.
- Inhale the vapor to get rid of the feeling of tightness in chest and congestion.
2. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint has stomach soothing properties that protect the inner linings from acidic burns. While travelling at higher altitude, the secretion of acid in our stomach increase which can lead to vomiting, nausea, morning sickness in pregnant women and sourness. Peppermint oil apply a protective layer on the inner lining of abdomen and help you fight back the symptoms of altitude sickness.
How To Use Peppermint Oil To Treat Altitude Sickness Naturally:
- To reduce nausea, inhale the peppermint oil several times.
- Alternatively, rub few drops on your forehead to calm down migraine or headaches.
- Mix 10 drops in boiling water and inhale the vapor.
- To soothe irritated stomach, drink peppermint tea regularly.
3. Lemon Essential Oil
Many people suffer from acute stomach pain after traveling from airplane. It occurs due to change in environmental pressure your body has to go through. Lemon oil is very effective in providing cough relief from calms down upset stomach.
It is considered as relaxing oil which can be useful in providing relief from nausea at higher elevation point.
How To Use Lemon Oil To Cure High Altitude Sickness:
- Rub few drops of lemon oil on your chest, neck and forehead after reaching at higher altitudes.
- Get a brand new bottle of lemon oil and inhale the vapor several times.
- Bring humidifiers and diffuser with your self and use it to vaporize few more drops in your tent.
4. Bergamot Essential Oil
The antioxidant present in bergamot makes it an effective relaxant and sedative that can cure altitude sickness. The antioxidants soothe the nerves and reduce anxiety, nervous tension, and stress, all of which can help cure ailments associated with stress such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression caused due to change in environment.
How to use:
- Rub it on your feet and forehead before sleeping.
- Add 2-3 drops into herbal tea.
- Inhale the rejuvenating aroma directly from a new bottle.
Medication and Conventional Treatment For Altitude Sickness
Home remedies for altitude sickness are effective enough to help you go through the process of acclimation. In the case of severe altitude sickness (especially HACE or HAPE) use of prophylactic treatments are highly advised. It is the use of medication to counter the side effects caused due to changed environment.
- Acetazolamide, sold under the trade name Diamox among others, is a medication used to treat altitude sickness and periodic paralysis(1). It help reduce the severe symptoms and promote fast recovery.
- Dexamethasone is a type of corticosteroid medication(2). It is used in the treatment of many conditions, including rheumatic problems, asthma, chronic obstructive disease and reduce oxidative stress. Patients can benefit from this drug by improving the brain function and cognitive behavior.
How Long Does It Take To Adjust To High Altitude and Avoid Sickness
So what if i have shifted to a higher elevation place, how can i adjust to this new environment? We often keep moving from one place to another and sometimes ends up at a higher altitude location. In such case, one should be mentally prepared that there is going to be some type of discomfort during this shift. Most healthy adults take up-to 1 week to acclimate to this new air pressure. During that period of 7 days, try above listed remedies to feel better.
How To Prevent Altitude Sickness Naturally
One has to make changes in their daily lifestyle to deal with the symptoms of altitude sickness. Here are some common tips to manage and prevent signs of mountain sickness.
- Drink plenty of water during the entire journey.
- Travel slowly above the 3000 meter altitude.
- Avoid strenuous exercise for the first 24 hours.
- Eat a light but high calorie diet.
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid smoking
- Climb only 300-500 meters per day.
- Use proper mountaineering kits.
- Include broccoli, potatoes, chocolate, dates, and dry fruits. in your diet plan.
While hiking, mountaineering, traveling from airplane or shifting to higher location can change the way your body react to environment. These natural home remedies are effective in preventing and treating altitude sickness. Make sure not to over tire yourself.