Explore Tibet discloses the hidden danger of Tibet travel

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According to tibetexploretour.com, most visitors come to Tibet for the pristine landscape, the culture and way-of-life of the Tibetan people, and the art and architecture of the world-famous Buddhist temples and monasteries. The high altitude of the Tibetan plateau is an integral part of what makes Tibetan life so unique. Explore Tibet, a local Tibet travel agency, discloses the hidden danger of Tibet travelwarns to its visitors and says:" For those visitors accustomed to life at lower elevations, it can pose a serious health risk."

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According to tibetexploretour.com, most visitors come to visit Tibet for the pristine landscape, the culture and way-of-life of the Tibetan people, and the art and architecture of the world-famous Buddhist temples and monasteries. The high altitude of the Tibetan plateau is an integral part of what makes Tibetan life so unique. Explore Tibet, a local Tibet travel agency, discloses the hidden danger of Tibet travelwarns to its visitors and says:" For those visitors accustomed to life at lower elevations, it can pose a serious health risk during the Tibet tour."

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is caused by rapid exposure to low air pressure, triggered by ascending from a lower elevation to a higher elevation very quickly. This is because the change in air pressure makes less oxygen available to the lungs. The average altitude in Tibet is 4,000 meters. AMS can occur within hours after a person ascends to an altitude of 3,000 meters or more. For most tourists this is as simple as getting off the plane in Lhasa, which has an elevation of about 3,500 meters.

The symptoms of AMS include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, shortness of breath, lack of strength and appetite, sleeping problems, nosebleed, peripheral edema (swelling in legs and ankles) and oliguria (dehydration and kidney problems). Although rare, if left unchecked AMS can progress to potentially life-threatening pulmonary or cerebral edema. In addition to AMS, dehydration occurs more quickly at higher altitudes, exacerbating the affects of altitude sickness.

Fortunately, AMS is easy to treat and prevent. Most people will experience only a headache or feel “fluish” their first few days at higher elevation. Visitors are advised to rest, drink plenty of water, remember to take deep breaths and refrain from strenuous activity. If these simpler treatments are not enough to alleviate AMS, hospitals and clinics in Lhasa are equipped with oxygen and other first-aid remedies.
When climbing to higher altitudes, for example during the Tibet trekking, visitors should make sure to keep their schedules slow, giving their bodies enough time to acclimatize. If symptoms of AMS become debilitating, it is important to quickly descend to a lower elevation.

Medical experts advise that tourists to Tibet should have a clear understanding of the risks of AMS before undertaking their trip. Most prearranged Tibet tours designate a few days for acclimatization in Lhasa at the beginning of the tour, with slowly increased exposure to higher elevations. It is also strongly advised for visitors to consult a travel clinic in their home with any questions about specific health concerns related to high-altitude travel.

Visitors with a severe cold, a high fever, acute or chronic pulmonary disease, severe cardiovascular disease, pregnant women in their third trimester, and children under three should avoid traveling to regions with a high altitude.

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Sonam Jamphel
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