Staying in the best of health on trail
The things that we need to be vigilant about on trail in the high mountains are: exposure to the weather (effects of sun; hypothermia); gastric upsets; coughs and colds; blisters and sores and managing the adjustment to higher altitudes.
Our advice is simple: prevention is easier than cures!
Here are some tips to stay well and healthy…
1.Keep hydrated! Drink plenty of safe water
In the very dry air of the mountains you are losing moisture every time you breathe out and through your skin… much more than you would in your home. Even sleeping we are dehydrating! When dehydrated we feel weary and lethargic and critically we are stopping our bodies adjust and acclimatise. Get hydrated, feel energised and acclimatise better and faster.
How do you know when you’re hydrated? It’s not what goes in,its what comes out. At altitude you’ll be urinating more frequently anyway (it’s a side effect of acclimatisation) so you should be peeing regularly and urine should be clear or pale. Haven’t peed for a couple of hours or more? You are on the way to dehydration.
The most common way to get bugs (bacteria, protozoa) into your system is on your hands – picking up food, touching your face, unwrapping food with dirty hands can lead to stomach upsets. Use a hand sanitiser and / or soap and water. Clean your hands immediately before eating (not when looking at menus or chatting pre meal). Don’t use towels in public washrooms. Try to avoid touching your face. And always clean hands after using the toilet.
3.Wear a buff / scarf over your mouth on high trails
This traps moisture and helps reduce the dryness of air you breathe in. It also keeps the dust out! Protecting your airways will reduce the likelihood of coughs and colds, particularly the dreaded Khumbu Cough. Use cough sweets or sugar free gum to keep your throat moist
The sun is particularly strong at altitude and the UV A and UV B rays will penetrate much more viciously in the thin air. Wear a good block, particularly on lips. Keep covered up. Watch out for friends getting red and sore – let them know.
5.Wear a hat
For the same reasons as above, a sun hat is essential in the high hills.
6.Stop and sort it out: socks rubbing a bit
Stop and prevent that blister forming; getting a little chilly – stop and put more clothes on before you get too cold…. A problem on trail will stay with you for the trek. Notice it and stop it happening.