4X4 X-Treme

Medical Notes

High Altitude Dos and Don'ts

High altitude affects everyone in different ways and to a different extent. A young 25 year old who is a regular gym goer may be flat on his back at 16,000 ft and the man smiling down at him as he regains consciousness may be the fat, balding 45 year old on the seat next to him. When high altitude sickness hits, you feel a dull headache, nausea, shortness of breath and complete lack of appetite. However there are a few things one can do to avoid, or to at least lessen the effects of High Altitude on your body.

Blood Pressure

Get your BP checked by your doctor. If it is even slightly higher than normal this will get exaggerated as the ambient pressure drops once you start climbing above 12,000 ft. Once we reach 16,000 ft your heart will be most unhappy trying to pump against the backpressure. Consult your doctor before the event and tell him where you are going......to a bit above 18,000 ft! May be he needs to readjust some medicinal dosages for the event.

Normally taking a Disprin after eating something in the morning will be good for even those not suffering from anything. This is dangerous for hemophiliacs and others with similar disorders so you must consult your physician before trying the Disprin fix in case of any adverse side effects. Disprin thins the blood and keeps the headaches away for most of the day! But the downside is it also slows blood clotting in case of an injury.


Asthmatic people are advised against coming for the event. However if you are only mildly so, you may consult your doctor. It is true that as a participant you will require great amounts of oxygen as you will be exerting hard. Carrying an oxygen cylinder on board your vehicle is compulsory for all - participants, media persons and organisers. Most of the army points have oxygen and the raid is carrying along two pressurised oxygen chambers. Though this may make you feel comforted you must decide for yourself in consultation with your physician.

You should carry your own inhalers, etc., and inform the organizers immediately if you feel any discomfort. Asthalin or some other broncho dilator too may need to be carried by you if you are an asthmatic. This is advised to be taken under qualified medical supervision.

Pulmonary and Cerebral Edema

The major High Altitude problems manifest themselves as Pulmonary or Cerebral Edema.


Your lungs start filling up with water secreted by your own body and the already "starved for air body" now  has less lung space for air as the water fills up!

Some medicines like Diamox prevent this by being diuretics. You need to go to the bathroom more often but you get rid of the excess water anyway!! However as this medication once again differs from person to person you need a medical OK before you try it.


Cerebral edema manifests itself as water retention in the brain. Speech slurs and the person walks as if drunk. ( A good reason to lay off the alcohol during the rally, as no one will have any doubts as to what the cause of your motor disorder is.) Dangerous if not treated immediately.

The cure for Cerebral and Pulmonary Edema is to bring the patient down to a lower altitude very, very fast. Don't panic. Ask informed people which way is the best to lose altitude. Inform a Raid official immediately as he will know best the quickest route to safety.

The organizers own and have access to pressure chambers and they will be the fastest recovery method in both cases.


Because the weather will be cold and extremely dry, you will tend to dehydrate extremely rapidly without realizing it. The first indication is a dryness of the lips. You have to guard against this everyday as it hastens the onset of high altitude sickness.


  • Drink lots and lots of water. Carry a bottle all the time.
  • Carry a moisturiser and use it often
  • Dark Glasses to be worn for UV protection at all times.
  • Put on that warm jacket before the sun goes down.
  • Dress in layers ..not just one fat jacket.
  • Eat whenever the opportunity presents itself. You will not feel hungry but you may be very short of calories.
  • Carry chocolates or dry fruit all the time.
  • Enjoy whatever comes your way


  • Don't exert unnecessarily or suddenly. Avoid running till you are fully acclimatized. By Day 6 ..maybe!
  • Don't smoke too much.
  • Don't drink alcohol at all!
  • Don't dress lightly just because it seems hot in the sun. The difference between sunburn and frostbite is only 30 minutes ...after the sun goes down.
  • Don't wander off in your vehicle alone. Always inform someone before you do. Better still, take another team with you.
  • Don't stand close to the edge of a road while taking pictures. The tail of a rally car looks great sliding out but it can hurt if you get hit. Use that expensive zoom to good effect from a safe distance!
  • Don't think that you can beat the cold, high altitude and the Himalayas - remember they have been here a lot longer than you...respect your adversary.. it is Mother Nature herself ! Plan everything in great detail and you will survive.
  • Finally, try not to crib when the going gets tough...BECAUSE IT ALWAYS WILL!

Medical Checklist

Medical Check ups

Asthmatic Condition Participation not permitted
Hemophilic Condition Participation not permitted
Blood Sugar Clear with doctor
Blood Pressure Clear with doctor
Heart condition Clear with doctor

Medicines / per person

Disprin / Crocin 20 Tablets each
Diamox 20 Tablets
Combiflam 10 Tablets
Throat Lozenges 20 Tablets
Otrivin Nasal drops 1 Bottle
Albucid Eye drops 1 Bottle
Imosec 10 Tablets
Dulcolax 5 Tablets

First Aid Kit

Oxygen cylinder 2 Units
Sun glasses 1 pair
Sunblock One
LactoCalamine One
Crepe Bandage One
Gauze Bandage One
Antiseptic Creme One
Band Aids Many
Cotton wool One
Vaseline Two