Altitude sickness may result of ascents to altitudes greater than 2500m (8100 ft). Specific locations to consider this are Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia and loss of appetite. Severe complications include fluid in the lungs and swelling of the brain. If symptoms persist, immediately descend 500m and see a physician. The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to spend two or more nights at each rise of 1000m. Diamox or ginkgo may be taken 24 hours before ascent to lessen symptoms. Avoid exertion, eat light meals and do not drink alcohol.
FStay out of the midday sun, wear sunscreen and a hat. The sun is intense at high altitudes so drink plenty of fluids, avoid strenuous activity and excessive alcohol consumption.
Dress in layers, carry food and fluids. Carry an emergency space blanket. Symptoms include exhaustion, numbness, slurred speech, muscle cramps and lethargy. If any of these symptoms persist, go indoors, replace wet clothing, consume hot liquids and easily digestible foods.
Wear long sleeves, long pants, hats and shoes. Use insect repellent with 25%-35% DEET. It is extremely important to prevent bites which sometimes carry disease.
Tap water is not safe to drink. It is recommended to vigorously boil water for at least 3 minutes. Water can also be disinfected with iodine or water purification pills. The safest way to consume water is by purchasing bottled water with recognizable labels such as Evian.
RECOMMENDED MEDICAL CHECKLIST
- Antidiarrheal drugs
- Analgesics (Tylenol or Advil)
- Antibacterial ointment
- Steroid cream
- Bandages, gauze
- Medical tape
- Safety scissors, tweezers, pins
- Hand sanitizer
- Tissue/toilet paper
- Iodine tablets
- Insect repellent