Symptoms of altitude illness can begin to occur at 8000ft (2400m) or lower still, but serious altitude illness is rare below 10,000 ft (3000 m). It occurs due to our body not adapting well to having less oxygen…
Cusco is situated at 3,400 meters above sea level so it’s 1000 meters higher than Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,400 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machu Picchu District in Peru. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows.
What is altitude sickness?
Altitude sickness occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air at high altitudes. This causes symptoms such as a headache, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. It happens most often when people who are not used to high altitudes go quickly from lower altitudes to 8000 ft (2,438 meters above sea level) or higher. For example, you may get a headache when you drive over a high mountain pass, hike to a high altitude, or arrive at a mountain resort.
Mild altitude sickness is common. Experts do not know who will get it and who will not. Neither your fitness level nor being male or female plays a role in whether you get altitude sickness.
What causes altitude sickness?
Air is “thinner” at high altitudes. When you go too high too fast, your body cannot get as much oxygen as it needs. So you need to breathe faster. This causes the headache and other symptoms of altitude sickness. As your body gets used to the altitude, the symptoms go away.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of altitude sickness include:
- A headache, which is usually throbbing. It gets worse during the night and when you wake up.
Not feeling like eating.
- Feeling sick to your stomach. You may vomit.
- Feeling weak and tired. In severe cases, you do not have the energy to eat, dress yourself, or do anything.
- Waking up during the night and not sleeping well.
- Feeling dizzy.
Your symptoms may be mild to severe. They may not start until a day after you have been at a high altitude. Many people say altitude sickness feels like having a hangover.
Altitude sickness can affect your lungs and brain. When this happens, symptoms include being confused, not being able to walk straight (ataxia), feeling faint, and having blue or gray lips or fingernails. When you breathe, you may hear a sound like a paper bag being crumpled. These symptoms mean the condition is severe. It may be deadly.
If you are going on a high-altitude trek, learn about altitude sickness, its symptoms, and how to treat it. Look out for other people in your group.
Prevention of Altitud sickness
Ascending slowly is the best way to avoid altitude sickness. Avoiding strenuous activity such as skiing, hiking, etc. in the first 24 hours at high altitude reduces the symptoms of AMS. Alcohol and sleeping pills are respiratory depressants, and thus slows down the acclimatization process and should be avoided. Alcohol also tends to cause dehydration and exacerbates AMS. Thus, avoiding alcohol consumption in the first 24–48 hours at a higher altitude is optimal.
Pre Acclimatization is when the body develops tolerance to low oxygen concentrations before ascending to an altitude. It significantly reduces risk because less time has to be spent at attitude to acclimatize in the traditional way. Additionally, because less time has to be spent on the mountain, less food and supplies have to be taken up. Several commercial systems exist that use altitude tents, so called because they mimic altitude by reducing the percentage of oxygen in the air while keeping air pressure constant to the surroundings. This technology was invented by Hypoxico, Inc. in the 1990s and has received a strong following from climbers and athletes the world over.
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