Short Rwanda Gorilla Safaris

Best Uganda Birding Safaris

3-day Uganda mountain gorilla trekking safari starts in Kampala and ends at Entebbe international airport in Uganda. It involves meeting eye to-eye with the magical mountain gorillas

Altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

Altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

Altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

Altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro: When people go to high altitudes too quickly, when oxygen levels are reduced and normal physiological functions are inhibited, they experience acute mountain sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness or altitude illness. At about 10,000 feet, people often begin to experience the symptoms of acute mountain sickness (3,000 m). Some people can have symptoms at altitudes as low as 8,000 feet (just over 2,400 m). Altitude sickness among hikers is regrettably extremely common because of Kilimanjaro’s relatively quick ascent profile. Acute mountain sickness symptoms come in three grades: mild, moderate, and serious.

Mild symptoms of altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro include;

  • Fatigue or headaches
  • nausea and vertigo.
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Appetite loss

It is crucial to let your climbing partners and guide know how you are feeling if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms. If you relax for a day at the level where these symptoms first appeared, they usually go away. This is why it’s crucial to have an acclimatization day where you climb high and sleep low!

The moderate symptoms of altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro include;

  • Extremely painful headaches that are not alleviated by medicine
  • Feeling extremely queasy, which frequently causes vomiting
  • very feeble and worn out.
  • Coordination issues (known as ataxia)
  • Breathing difficulties

When one or more of the mild symptoms start to worsen to the point where they become incapacitating, it is obvious that you are suffering from moderate altitude sickness symptoms. People with moderate symptoms typically have terrible headaches and frequently vomit. It’s common to feel less coordinated (i.e., ataxia).

When suffering from moderate AMS, people can sometimes walk on their own, but ascension will almost certainly intensify the symptoms to the point where they are no longer able to walk. Stretcher evacuation would be required, which should be prevented at all costs. It is fatal to ascend while experiencing mild symptoms. It’s crucial that you drop at least 1000 feet (300 meters), but preferably more, and stay at a lower elevation until the symptoms go away. You have acclimatized and can resume ascending once the symptoms have subsided.

An adventure lover hiking mountain Kilimanjaro

An adventure lover hiking mountain Kilimanjaro

Symptoms of Severe Altitude Acute Mountain Sickness:

  • Being unable to walk
  • Breathing difficulties while at rest
  • Cognitive decline and hallucinations
  • The lungs are covered in fluid.

Acute Mountain Sickness symptoms are exceedingly harmful and should never be present during climbing. Serious AMS patients frequently find it difficult to move, have breathing problems, and lose their mental clarity.

It is possible to develop either High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), two disorders that are linked to severe AMS and both of which are brought on by fluid leakage through capillary walls. Both circumstances or conditions are uncommon, but virtually always arise as a result of going too high, too quickly, or staying too long at a very high altitude.

Pulmonary edema at high altitudes (HAPE)

Fluid accumulation in the lungs causes the illness known as high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), which is connected to acute mountain sickness. The amount of oxygen in the bloodstream decreases as a result of ineffective oxygen exchange caused by fluid in the lungs. A too-high, too-rapid ascent is nearly invariably the cause of HAPE. When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, every precaution should be taken to prevent it because it is a life-threatening condition.

Clear indications that someone has HAPE include:

  • Even when resting, you will have trouble breathing.
  • A tight chest
  • The sensation of being choked, especially when sleeping, Coughing out white, frothy fluid
  • Extreme weakness and weariness
  • Confusion, delusions, and bizarre behavior

One can conclude that pulmonary edema has started to influence the brain due to a shortage of oxygen in the bloodstream if the last three symptoms of confusion, hallucinations, and irrational behavior occur. Oxygen should be given if any is available. Nifedipine has been demonstrated to improve the disease, but the sole treatment is descending.

Trekkers should be careful not to overexert the individual descending with high-altitude pulmonary edema because this can exacerbate the disease. The preferred method of descent is stretcher evacuation. Once the victim has descended to the mountain’s base, emergency medical assistance should be sought.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

A serious case of acute mountain sickness is known as high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). It happens as a result of fluid buildup in the cranium causing swelling of the brain tissue. It’s a life-threatening illness.

Those who have HACE should quickly descend and seek medical help when they reach the lower parts of the mountain.

If a person exhibits any of the following symptoms, they may have HACE:

Severe headaches that are unresponsive to medication Hallucination

  • “Consciousness is lost.”
  • Disorientation
  • Coordination problems (i.e., ataxia)
  • There is no memory.
  • Coma

HACE typically begins at night. If someone in your group has HACE symptoms, do not stay till the morning. The longer you wait at altitude, the more likely you are to die. Even in the dark, descend right away. If you think you could be experiencing HACE symptoms, you should never ascend. Dexamethasone, a steroid that can be supplied if you have oxygen, should only be used in conjunction with rapid descent.

Large numbers of hikers climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro

Large numbers of hikers climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro

The rules you should follow to avoid altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

If you follow a few simple guidelines, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro need not be a highly risky or deadly endeavor.

Before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, pre-acclimatize if you have the opportunity to. Before trying Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, it is a good idea to hike the nearby Mount Meru (4,565 m).

Choose a Kilimanjaro route that is at least seven days long if you are a novice high-altitude hiker (6 up, 1 down). For the ordinary trekker, we believe that the seven-day Machame or the seven-to-eight-day Lemosho is the best option.

Make sure the route provides a decent opportunity to climb high and sleep low (both the Machame and Lemosho do).

Make it a point to go as gently as you can while on the mountain to avoid exhausting yourself, even in the lower parts.

Drink a lot of water (2.5–4 liters a day).

On the mountain, refrain from using any stimulants, alcohol, smoking, or caffeine.

We advise using acetazolamide (Diamox).

Finally, keep in mind these three golden rules whenever you are at altitude, as advised by the nonprofit organization

Unless proven differently, if you feel sick, you probably have altitude sickness.

If you are experiencing altitude sickness symptoms, stop climbing further.

Immediately descend if things start to get worse.

Preventive measures of altitude sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Diamox is a preventative medicine.
  • Acetazolamide, often known as Diamox, is a medication that is successful in preventing altitude sickness.
  • By acting as a diuretic and encouraging urination, the medication helps to raise blood acidity. Our systems interpret a rise in blood acidity as an increase in CO2, so one begins breathing more deeply and quickly to exhale the CO2. Faster, deeper breathing increases the quantity of oxygen delivered to the blood, reducing the risk of developing AMS symptoms.
  • Remember that Diamox is a preventive (preventative) drug and does not treat the signs and symptoms of AMS. The only way to stop altitude sickness symptoms once they’ve begun is to descend. Diamox must never be used.
  • Diamox is a prescription medication as well, so it’s crucial that you first speak with your doctor to see whether it’s appropriate for you given your unique medical history. Pregnant women and those with renal or liver illness should avoid it.
  • To see if you encounter any negative effects, we advise taking Diamox for a few days two weeks before your trip.
  • The following are typical side effects of Diamox:
  • Everyone who takes Diamox reports having frequent urination. You must drink enough fluids while taking the drug because it increases your risk of developing kidney stones.
  • Many patients who use Diamox report experiencing numbness and tingling in their fingers, toes, and faces. Although slightly uncomfortable, the sensation is not harmful.

Changes in flavor (some foods might taste weird)

This is unusual: nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Until you climb Kilimanjaro, you should find out about these adverse effects during your test. Unfortunately, because these side effects are typical of AMS, AMS is sometimes mistaken for them.

Additionally, possible adverse effects include sleepiness and disorientation, which can both be mistaken for AMS. Diamox tablets are 250 mg each. The majority of people take half a tablet in the morning and a half at night. You should start taking pills one day before you arrive at Kilimanjaro, and you should continue to take the same dose throughout your ascent. On the descent, you can stop taking Diamox. Kilimanjaro climbing safaris give you the best guidelines for avoiding altitude sickness for the betterment of your Kilimanjaro climbing safaris.

Please be respectful of copyright. Unauthorized use is prohibited!
Send us an email and the link of this page on
to get this information!