Anyone with heart, lung and blood pressure abnormalities or a continuing medical condition should have a check-up and get a medical opinion before setting off for a trek or expedition.
Many recently-retired people have made it to the top of Kala Pattar (5554m/18,222ft) so age need not be a barrier. The older you are, the more important prior fitness preparation is.
Caution should be exercised when taking children trekking. Younger people can be slower to adapt to altitude, and very young children have difficulty in communicating exactly how they feel. No studies have been undertaken so cautious doctors recommend the safe maximum for pre-teenage children is 3000m/9843ft. However a number of young children have made it to the top of Kala Pattar – 5560m. Trekking with children can be very rewarding and bring you closer to the locals. You share a common bond for there are few people without children in Nepal. Little legs are easily carried by a porter when tired, and Sherpanis are good babysitters.
There is no evidence to suggest that teenagers adapt slower to altitude than adults. However they do appear to be more at risk. This is likely to be because of competitiveness and a will not to give in, and also because some school groups treat the trek as an outward bound exercise, with everyone carrying their own backpack. School groups should allow an extra day or two over the most conservative itineraries and be particularly watchful.
This is no reason to avoid trekking. Kathmandu is horribly polluted but most asthmatics feel better once trekking. Look after your medication – wear your inhaler on a chain around your neck or keep it in a pocket. There is still the normal risk of a serious attack so brief your companions on what to do.
If it is well-controlled diabetes is no reason to avoid trekking. You cannot afford to lose the medication so keep it with you at all times and warn you friends on the procedures in case there’s an emergency. Your increased energy expenditure will change carbohydrate and insulin levels so it’s very important to monitor your glucose levels frequently and carefully and to keep blood sugar levels well controlled.
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Blood pressure will fluctuate more and be higher than usual while on a trek. You should seek the advice of a doctor who is aware of the history of your condition.
Previous heart attacks
Studies have yet to be conducted but it is likely that the level of exertion required on a trek is more significant than the altitude factor. Seek the advice of your doctor.
There is a moderately increased risk of a seizure at altitude, but is not a reason to stop you trekking. You companions must be briefed on all the relevant procedures.
Complications are common, especially in the first pregnancy. Sometimes sophisticated care is needed so it’s probably not a good idea to go trekking while pregnant. The effects of reduced oxygen at high altitude on the foetus have not yet been studied.
Past history of chest infections
If you are prone to these bring the medicine you are normally prescribed (usually Augmentin or Roxi-something), and at least 2 full courses of it. If you are ascending to high altitude for only a short time in the Everest region you may want to take it prophylactically, since your chances of picking one up are high.
Your physician and your local Public Health Service are the best sources of information regarding the immunizations necessary for Nepal. The following list of recommended medicines and injections, are normally recommended for trekkers in Nepal. It is a good practice to have shots recommended in a Yellow international health certificate.
Recommended Vaccines & Immunization
4) Polio (oral)
|5) Malaria (only if you will be visiting a jungle lodge)
7) Hepatitis (gamma globulin an expensive, but important shot)
8) Meningitis Meningococcal A/C vaccine
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