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A healthy trip to mountain heights: Managing altitude sickness

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Being on top of the world can have severe implicat Being on top of the world can have severe implications for health, so intrepid travellers should be forewarned

The growing popularity of adventure travel in recent years, has made it imperative for professionals working in travel health to have an understanding of some of the hazards and risks of this type of holiday.

Travellers planning to visit high altitudes need to have a full travel health consultation with the nurse explaining the effects altitude can have on the body and precautions needed to avoid serious mountaineering illnesses.

An imperative part of undertaking any expedition, especially at altitude, is being healthy and physically fit enough to complete the trip before departing.1 The organisation Climb Mount Kilimanjaro suggests that a good level of fitness is helpful, but altitude sickness remains the main reason for climbers having problems.2

Comprehensive travel insurance is vital, and the traveller must make sure the provider is aware of the altitude, purpose of the trip and any medical conditions.3 The trip may require specialist insurance cover, such as that offered by the British Mountaineering Council.

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