Medical Matters & Advice

Trekking in Nepal need not be considered risky affair as far as your health is concerned. But very little medical care along the trail is available, so make sure you are physically fit and healthy before departing. In case of serious illness or injury, prompt evacuation to Kathmandu is the best remedy. Helicopter rescue service is extremely expensive. Neither the Nepalese government, your embassy or the trekking agency ( if you are trekking with one) is responsible for the bill. Therefore, you are requested to insure for rescue operation also. Take care of yourself along the trail by ensuring that water is boiled. Diarrhoea and headaches can be the curse for trekkers. So, bring appropriate medication and use them with caution. Sun burn can also be a problem at altitude, a barrier cream will protect your skin and good sun glasses are also necessary. Blisters are another problem for the trekker and adequate supplies of band aids are advisable.

Altitude sickness:
Often known as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is particularly a important medical consideration while trekking in Nepal. Altitude sickness means the effect of altitude on those who ascend too rapidly to elevation above 3000 m. The initial symptoms of AMS are as following

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia / Sleeplessness
  • Persistent headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion,
  • Disorientation, drunken gait.
  • Weakness, fatigue, lassitude, heavy legs.
  • Slight swelling of hands and face
  • Breathlessness and breathing irregularity
  • Reduced urine output.

These symptoms are to be taken very seriously. In case of appearance of any of the above symptoms any further ascent should be reconsidered, otherwise more serious problem can occur which can even cause death sometimes within a few hours. The only cure for the altitude sickness is to descend to lower elevations immediately and it has no other cure or substitute. Acclimatization by ascending to no more than 300 to 500 meters per day above 3000 meters and the proper amount of rest are the best methods for prevention of AMS. Literature and pamphlet published by "Himalayan Rescue Association" consists of detailed information on AMS .The central Immigration office and all trekking agencies in Kathmandu distribute this pamphlet free of cost. Since these documents also give information on the list of suggested medical supplies for trekkers it is a compulsory item for every trekkers' medical kit.

CIWEC Clinic Travel Medicine Center
CIWEC Clinic Building The Travel Medicine Center is one of the most famous destination travel clinics in the world. The clinic was established in 1982 to meet the need for a Western standard clinic to treat foreign tourists, diplomats and aid workers in Nepal. The clinic is known internationally both for the high level of care afforded to patients, and for its reliable research and information about health risks in Nepal. The Travel Medicine Center was the first clinic situated in a developing country that was selected by the International Society of Travel Medicine to participate in its global surveillance program for emerging diseases among travelers. The clinic also serves as a Family Practice Center for the resident foreign and Nepalese communities.

The clinic's focus on the health problems of foreigners in Nepal, has led to the discovery of a new cause of diarrhea, the publication of over 30 original research papers, and the receipt of two international awards for research in travel and wilderness medicine.

Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA)
HRA is a Nepalese voluntary organization registered with His Majesty's Government to run a mountain rescue service in the mountain tourist areas. The Association's major role is the prevention and treatment of mountain sickness. The Association's medical research work is undertaken by a team of mainly American doctors at present. The trekkers aid posts are stuffed by the western doctors.

The Kathmandu office and Information centre of the HRA is located within the premises of Kathmandu Guest House at Thamel. They open on weekdays from 10 to 5. They also have a Trekking book in which travellers write about trekking experiences and a small library of travel books. The HRA information centre has expert and up- to -date information on all aspects of altitude sickness. All those intending to trek above 10,000 ft. are advised to visit the information centre.The HRA operates two-Trekkers' Aid posts - at Pheriche on the main trail to Everest Base camp and at Chindi about an hour walk East of Manang.

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