The Soroche or high sickness
Most people are afraid of the symptoms of the high sickness or most well known as Soroche at the Andes.
It is always important to keep on mind that places as Cuzco, La Paz, Quito and others that are above 2,500 or 3,000 meters above the sea, the high sickness might appear. Here the symptoms of the Soroche:
Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting, excessive flatulation
Fatigue or weakness, headache with or without dizziness or light-headedness, insomnia
swelling of hands, feet
Nose bleeding, shortness of breath upon exertion
Persistent rapid pulse
Besides not all the persons will have the same symptoms, personally I got headaches and some of my passengers got fatigue or rapid pulse.
Those are the primary symptoms and generally they disappeared when you acclimatize to the area, it could take a couple of days.
I won’t lie, Soroche could develop to more severe situation where could be fatal as Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) or Cerebral edema (swelling of the brain), so when we are with the passengers and we see this kind of severe symptoms as Persistent dry cough and fever we just call the doctor. The doctor decide if the passenger could stay and carry on with the trip or take the passenger to the sea level.
Some tips for prevention:
First of all check with your head doctor if you are in good physical condition to go the highlands, and ask him to give you the necessary medication to deal with it.
Rest at least eight hours before traveling.
Before and during the trip, eat in a balanced way. Avoid acids and condiments. Prefer a soft diet.
Avoid fats, because at the highlands the digestion is slow.
Do not drink alcoholic beverages, because they produce depression of the central nervous system. Yes, Pisco Sour is delicious but I suggest not to drink it at least the first day.
The drug acetazolamide (trade name Diamox) may help some people.
Oxygen from gas bottles or liquid containers can be applied directly via a nasal cannula or mask could be purchase at the pharmacy and also all the tour operators and hotels has their Oxygen.
Drink Coca tea! (Note: some people feel that coca tea is like a booster so it could increase the pulse).
About the famous Sorojchi Pills, this medication has been create by Crespal laboratory original from Bolivia, and main components are: Acetylsalicylic acid 325mg, Salophine 160mg and Caffeine 15mg. For more information click here http://www.sorojchipills.com, unfortunately there is not in English but Spanish page.