Recently, Tonya published on her website her article “What is mountain sickness”, which is very correct and interesting. In the comments we were asked to tell more about this in both theoretical and practical aspects. This makes sense all the more, since most mountain tourists, climbers, skiers, and travelers have very vague and romantic ideas about the subject. Like, when you go up to the mountains, the first time is tormented by the “acclimuch”, and then it seems like everything is going well. Someone heard about the rise schedules, complies with them, but does not want to go into details. Someone from the first day in the mountains treats a mountain sickness that has not yet begun and carries a whole set of adaptogens. There are two completely opposite legends about diacarb among tourists: some drink it “for acclimatization”, others advise to throw it out and never take it to avoid “falling off the kidneys”. Some offer good cognac as the least harmful remedy for mountain sickness (why is it necessarily good?). Therefore, I decided to write a brief but comprehensive review in order to clarify what is happening to us in the mountains and what can be done about it.
What is mountain sickness and acclimatization?
Acclimatization is a process of adaptation of an organism to new environmental conditions. With increasing height, the air pressure decreases, as well as the percentage of oxygen in it. The same breath in the mountains will bring less air to the lungs, and the percentage of oxygen in it is also less (and more nitrogen). But the consumption of muscles, the brain and the maintenance of vital activity does not decrease in any way. On the contrary, the physical work of carrying backpacks, walking uphill can be very stressful and require a lot of oxygen. Thus, an oxygen deficiency is formed. To maintain life, the body has adaptive mechanisms. Some of them turn on quickly (an increase in the frequency and depth of inspiration, the release of “spare” red blood cells into the blood), for the development of others it takes a long time (restructuring of tissue processes, changing the composition of the blood).