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18 / June

Considerations on Plateau and Some Tips

Want to escape from smog, noise or earth to enjoy brief peace? Then go to plateau. With high altitude, blue sky and clear air, it’s quiet there. Western Sichuan Plateau is a perfect destination. But for the first time, you’d better be fully prepared, paying attention to the next items.

In order to minimize discomfort, the following must be strictly observed during outdoor travel on plateau.

1.Drinking more water. Because of the low air humidity, our body may dehydrate easily. Plus, the hemoglobin increases, which will cause a growth in blood viscosity, and the hypoxic and cold environment leads to the blood vessels to contract, bring about a blood clot then cardiovascular and cerebrovascular accidents. Therefore, after entering the plateau, you should drink a small amount of water to prevent blood clots. Usually 4000 ml of liquid is needed every day. Given the low humidity, the lips are prone to chapped. Besides drinking plenty of water, you can use lip balm to improve your symptoms.

2.Abandoning smoking. Carbon monoxide, an important product of cigarettes, binds to hemoglobin 250-300 times as much as oxygen. Smoking on plateau can aggravate altitude stress.

3.Breathing in a proper method. Exercise tests prove that abdominal breathing is more regular and rhythmic than that of chest. This method is also an instinctive respiratory action in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive emphysema. As a result, during walking or climbing, travelers can put their hands on hips, assist breathing with the muscles of arms, clavicle, shoulder blades and trunk above waist, so as to increase the movement of the respiratory system.

4.Preventing radiation. The high intensity of the ultraviolet light on the plateau can easily damage the skin and eyes, especially in the snow. Accordingly, try to avoid skin exposure. You can wear UV-protective sunshades and parasols. It’s also a good idea to apply sunscreen to the skin that may be exposed.

5.Upon arrival at high altitude, avoid violent activities and emotional excitement. No hot baths, in a bid not to accelerate circulation and aggravate hypoxia, giving rise to pulmonary edema.

6.Keeping dietary principles of high carbohydrates (also known as carbohydrates, 60-70%), high vegetable protein and low fat. That’s resulted from that carbohydrates can not only provide fast heat to make people adapt to high-intensity activities, but also increase the exchange of oxygen ventilation; excessive fat and animal protein can aggravate altitude reaction instead.

7.Altitude sickness can trigger insomnia, so it is advisable to take valium to ensure sleep, eliminate fatigue and go on smooth travel.

Prevention Methods

Walking and climbing speed aren’t advised to be too fast; stepping smoothly is better, with appropriate breathing. Meanwhile, the pace should be adjusted according to the gradient, so that the exercise amount is proportional to that of breathing; especially avoid rapid breathing. Your climbing height should be controlled everyday to adapt to the low pressure and thin air in high mountains. Travel should not be too tense. Sleep and diet should be adequate and normal. During regular short breaks, soft exercises and deep breathing are favorable to strengthen circulation and altitude adaptation. Besides, more physical training should be done to increase oxygen uptake function.

It’s crucial to prevent cold.

Plus, on the plateau, the human body itself have an adjustment mechanism to run in a maximum way, which is called adaptation. Little is known about the process of altitude acclimatization. Past studies were focused on erythropoietin and growing number of red blood cells. But now, it is recognized that it only plays a small role, and raised breathing (minute ventilation) and other subtle adaptation at the hormone and cellular levels may be more important. If a person mounts slowly enough, the adaptation process can occur effectively so that we won’t suffer from altitude stress, while if a person climbs faster than his body adapts, he may suffer from it.

Altitude sickness syndrome basically falls into three categories: acute mountain disease (AMS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude brain edema (HACE). These syndromes are pathophysiologically related, but why some have brain symptoms while others have lung ones is still unknown.

Acute mountain sickness often starts with brain symptoms, manifested as headache, loss of appetite and fatigue. Headache can develop from mild to severe; appetite loss can lead to nausea and vomiting; fatigue can develop into extreme fatigue. Occasionally, these symptoms are severe enough to evolve into high altitude brain edema. Its diagnosis is mostly a change of consciousness or imbalance of somatic movement. It can turn rapidly into coma even death, occurring alone or in association with high altitude pulmonary edema.

High altitude pulmonary edema usually has no brain symptoms. If lung symptoms appear alone, it begins from reduction in endurance, difficulty in walking, evolving to severe dyspnea and chest tightness, even difficult breathing when sitting. This will rapidly develop into acute pulmonary edema, with pink and foam sputum appearing in case of respiratory failure.

Adaptation seems to be genetically controlled. Some of the people can easily adapt to high altitude, while others can’t even go where is beyond 3000 meters above sea level. At present, there is no effective way to screen and decide whether you’re is adaptable or not. Adaptation is usually explained after 6-48 hours on highland. Therefore, just staying on the plateau for a few hours does not mean that a person is fairly adaptable.

Emergency treatment on plateau

Oxygen supply and height reduction are the most effective first-aid treatments. If there is shock, priority should be given to attention to warmth loss and other complications. The patient should rest immediately and be moved to a windless place. If the pain really matters, take an analgesic to relieve pain. If these don’t work, go to the lower height until the patient feels comfortable or the symptoms are significantly mitigated. In general, such patients can be cured after moving down. Even so, seriously ill patients still need to be sent to hospital for treatment.

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