BE HIGH ON MOUNTAINS NOT ALCOHOL
03 Oct 2017
Imagine yourself being cocooned in a camp, at an altitude of 1600 ft and temperature is constantly dropping and gradually, you would start feeling the chills. What would you normally do? Your hand will reach the pockets of your bag to take out the magical potion- Whiskey, Rum or Brandy, and why not? Afterall, ‘Happiness is a warm gun’! But we need to break it to you, even if you know it or not, that after sometime, when you have felt the warmth of the alcohol trinkled down your throat, you will be knocked out cold literally.
At a high altitude, Alcohol keeps you warm is a MYTH. The after effects of consuming alcohol while trekking and hiking can be serious beyond your imagination. The fact is alcohol keeps your body temperature low and can result in Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS) and sometimes Hypothermia.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Alcohol consumption decreases water level in the body and results in dehydration. Symptoms like dizziness, headache, weakness, insomnia and vomiting are some other symptoms that results in AMS. Alcohol in hilly terrains is more effective than alcohol at sea level. MS results in reduced blood pressure and haemoglobin that eventually reduces the oxygen level from the body.
Alcohol increases the rate of adrenalin and this causes major reason for the blood vessel to dilate. For a moment, you might feel warmer as the blood flows towards the skin but it actually decreases the temperature of your body. Hypothermia may vary from mild to moderate to acute. It directly affects one’s nervous system and symptoms like decrement in the breathing rate, respiratory issues and shivering. It might also lead to organ failure which results in clinical death or brain death.
There are many steps that can be taken to avoid such extreme situations.
1. Avoid having alcohol while trekking. It is better to give away the drinking habit from at least 72 hrs before the trek.
2. Drink as much water as you can.
3. Outfit must be of synthetic or woollen fabrics, avoid cotton during a trek
4. Cover your body properly is next tip in the list.
5. Warm your body with a bonfire, sleeping bags and other recommended instructions by the trek leader.
In the end, if you really do want to enjoy your trekking experience, then listen to your trek lead. Have gallons of water and avoid drinking.