High Altitude Myths
Myths about High Altitude
Myth no. 1 – Do not use caffeine at altitude.
Caffeine is a mild diuretic (it makes you pee), which shouldn’t concern you because it might dehydrate you and cause AMS. This will only be true if you drink many pots of very strong coffee and no other fluids. Caffeine could help in altitude as it stimulates your breathing, brain, and kidneys. Another point is that if you are used to having several caffeinated beverages, a profound headache can be caused if stopped abruptly.
Myth no. 2 – Diamox masks symptoms of altitude sickness.
Diamox doesn’t mask symptoms of AMS when taken as prevention. It contains carbonic dehydrates, which make you urinate bicarbonate. This stimulates your breathing as it makes your blood more acidic, which makes you take more oxygen. It enhances your natural acclimatization process, and you won’t have rebound symptoms if you stop taking it. It is used as a preventative measure and a cure for Acute Mountain Sickness.
Myth no. 3 – Physical fitness protects against altitude sickness.
Physical fitness does not protect one from altitude illness. Many young fit athletes push themselves too hard at altitude before acclimatizing as they can go through the discomfort. Being fit and healthy, they think it can’t affect them, hence ignoring altitude illness signs. Everyone is susceptible to AMS, regardless of fitness levels.
Myth no. 4 – Drinking extra water will protect you from altitude illness.
Symptoms of dehydration are similar to AMS, so staying hydrated is important at altitude. You only need an additional litre to a litre and a half of water at height. However, too much water is harmful and can dilute your body’s sodium level, which causes weakness, confusion, seizures, and coma. Check the colour of your urine. Clear urine means you are adequately hydrated, while dark urine suggests dehydration and the need to take more fluids.
Myth no. 5 – Children are more susceptible to altitude illness.
Studies have shown that children have similar rates of AMS as adults. There is no evidence that children are more prone to altitude. If you follow the basic rules of acclimatization with a healthy child, they will do pretty well at high altitudes. The main worry is that they might not communicate their symptoms when suffering from altitude sickness. Just like adults, children with AMS bounce back real quick with treatment.