- The Pilgrimage to Holy Cave of Shri Amarnathji involves trekking at altitudes as high as 14000 feet.
- Yatris may develop High Altitude Sickness with following symptoms: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness and difficulty in sleeping, visual impairment, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, loss of coordination of movements, paralysis on one side of the body, gradual loss of consciousness and mental status changes, drowsiness, chest tightness, fullness, congestion, fast breathing and increased heart rate.
- If high altitude sickness is not treated timely, it may be lethal in a matter of hours.
Dos for prevention of High Altitude Sickness
- Do prepare for the Yatra by achieving Physical Fitness – it is advisable to start a preparatory Morning/ Evening walk, about 4-5 km per day, at least a month prior to the Yatra.
- Start deep breathing exercise and Yoga, particularly pranayam for improving oxygen efficiency of the body.
- Do check with your physician prior to travelling to higher elevations, if you have any existing pre-existing medical conditions.
- Do walk slowly while ascending and take time to acclimatize-relax for a short while on steep inclines.
- Do avoid exerting beyond your normal capacity.
- Do take compulsory rest at various locations and ensure time logging and take ideal walking time mentioned on the display boards while moving towards next location.
- Do check with your physician prior to taking any medications.
- Do drink lots of water to combat dehydration and headaches–about 5 litres of fluid per day.
- Do consume plenty of carbohydrates to reduce fatigue and prevent low blood sugar levels.
- Do bring portable oxygen with you as it is helpful in case you have difficulty in breathing.
- Do descend immediately to a lower elevation, if you start having altitude illness symptoms.
- In case there is any change in the status of your health after having obtained Compulsory Health Certificate some weeks earlier, do consult your doctor before embarking on the pilgrimage.
- In case of any signs of High Altitude Sickness or any other discomfort, immediately contact the nearest medical facility located at every 2 kms.
Don'ts for prevention of High Altitude Illness
- Don't ignore the symptoms of high altitude illness.
- Don't drink alcohol, caffeinated drink, or smoke.
- Don't ascend any further if you have altitude illness. Instead, descend immediately to an elevation where you can acclimatize.
- Don't accept everything a sick Yatri says since his/ her judgment is impaired.