How to Cope with Tibet Altitude Sickness Properly

Oxygen Cylinder used in Tibet

Covering an area of 1.2 million square kilometers, with average altitude above 4000m, Tibet is the largest and highest plateau in the world. Due to its huge landmass, Tibet is rich in natural and human tourism resources including snow mountains, lakes, ancient temples and cultural cities. Thanks to the abundant tourism resources, it has attracted a large number of tourists around the world. However, for many visitors who are planning to travel to Tibet, altitude sickness has become one of their biggest concerns during the journey. Are you also bothered with this problem? If you are, this post might help you.

Part 1. What Is Tibet Altitude Sickness? (Tibet Altitude Sickness Symptoms and Causes)
Part 2. How Long Does Tibet Altitude Sickness Last
Part 3. How to Prepare for Tibet Altitude Sickness Properly
Part 4. How to Cope with Tibet Altitude Sickness Under Emergency

Part 1. What Is Altitude Sickness? (Causes and Symptoms)

In short, Altitude sickness is a group of general symptoms that are brought by suddenly getting to a high altitude area that is low in oxygen level. The typical symptoms of altitude are headache and vomiting. But different levels of altitude sickness have different symptoms. There are three types of altitude sickness: Acute mountains sickness, high altitude pulmonary edema and high altitude cerebral edema.

Oxygen Treatment in Tibet

  1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)  is the mildest form of altitude illness. The main symptoms of it are dizziness, headache, muscle aches, nausea, and shortness of breath.
  2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is more intense than AMS. When you suffer from HAPE, your feet, legs, and ankles will swell. If the condition gets worse, it can cause shock or spams.
  3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)  is the most severe form. It is often characterized by ataxia, fatigue, shortness of breath, confusion and fluid buildup in the lungs or brain. If this happens, you need to seek medical attention or go to hospital immediately, or your life will be threatened.

Basically, the high altitude illness affects everyone in various degrees, so does the duration. Well, how long does altitude sickness last?

Part 2. How Long Does Altitude Sickness Last

Generally speaking, you won’t feel uncomfortable immediately after your arrival. But after 3-5 hours, you may experience some symptoms of altitude illness like headache, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. At this time, you are advised to have a rest in the hotel so that you can adapt to the high altitude. In general, you will get rid of altitude sickness in about 2-3 days. But if you unfortunately suffer from HAPE, you might need a few weeks to get rid of it.

Though the AMS is unavoidable, you can prepare or lessen the effects of AMS in the maximum extent by reading the following guide.

Part 3. How to Prepare for Altitude Sickness in Tibet Properly

If you’re now planning tour to Tibet, you might require some preventive measures to curb high altitude sickness. And we have collected some useful tips for you, just refer them by reading the following text.

1. How to Prepare for Altitude Sickness Before Traveling to Tibet

Consult your local doctor

  • Keep fit. Before traveling to Tibet, get as fit as possible, both physically and psychologically. If you have recently been sick, you need to consult your doctor whether you should travel to Tibet.
  • If you have a record of heart, lung and other organ problems or severe anemia, you should go to ask your doctors whether you should travel to high altitude areas like Tibet.
  • Avoid catching a cold. You are not suggested to travel to Tibet if you catch a cold, because the respiratory infection will make altitude sickness symptoms worse and increase the risk of suffering from the pulmonary edema, which is life-threatening.
  • You can also visit some medicine specialists or doctors who are familiar with travel medicine to provide you with travel advice depending on your age and overall health. For instance, you can ask him to provide you with some necessary medicine like Diamox to curb altitude illness.
  • When you arrive at Tibet the first day, don’t rush to challenge the destinations at high elevation, just spend the first day in Lhasa to acclimate the high altitude.

2. How to Prepare for Altitude Sickness While Traveling in Tibet

Drink no alcoholic beverages

  • Drink plenty of water ( 4 liters per day at least) to keep your body properlyl hydrated (but not too much), or fluid loss will lead to dehydration, which will increase the risk of hypoxia.
  • Eat plenty of carbohydrate foods like energy bars, wheat pancakes, rice, etc. A carbohydrate diet can reduce the severity of altitude sickness and improve physical performance.
  • Do not eat too much high-fat foods, which can add burden to your stomach and increase your risk of altitude sickness.
  • Avoid too many physical activities after your arrival the first day.
  • No alcohol or smoking while traveling in Tibet, as alcohol will add burden to your heart and liver and this will make altitude sickness worse.  
  • Do not take depressant drugs like tranquilizers and sleeping pills, because they will depress your respiratory drive and limit oxygen intake.
  • Never sleep at an altitude where you can feel symptoms of altitude sickness, just choose a hotel located at a lower altitude where there is greater oxygen density.
  • Try not to take a bath while traveling in Tibet, since showering will put you at great risk of catching a cold which is very bad for your acclimatization to altitude sickness.
  • Take some Diamox, a popular precipitation drug that can stimulate breathing and raise their oxygen level, when you feel uncomfortable during the Tibet tour.

Note: there are some temporary and harmless side effects of taking Diamox. For instance, your toes and fingers will tingle. While it can’t hurt you and soon you will be back to normal.

There is no 100% foolproof way to prevent or avoid getting altitude sickness in Tibet since different people have different responses to high altitude based on their genetics. If you are unfortunately suffering from altitude sickness under emergency while traveling to Tibet, don’t worry, we have some quick remedies to help you escape from Tibet altitude sickness.

Part 4. How to Cope with Tibet Altitude Sickness Under Emergency

  1. Diamox for Tibet Altitude Sickness

    You can ask for the hotel where you live to provide you with personal oxygen canisters pr portable units when you get the altitude sickness in Tibet. Usually, many hotels, especially hotels in some mountainous areas often pumps extra oxygen to guest rooms.
  2. Diamox (Acetazolamide) is recommended both to avoid and reduce the symptoms of high altitude sickness. It will decrease your headache, nausea, tiredness, shortness of breath and tiredness. You can find it in some drug stores in Tibet.
  3. Natural remedies for Altitude Sickness in Tibet. There are many herbal remedies can be used to treat altitude sickness. For instance, some Chinese herbal medicines including Fufang yi hao pills, Sheng nao kang pills, Shu li kang capsules, Xing nao jing injection, and Danhong injection.
  4. Tibet People's Hospital

    Ask hospitals for help. This is the best way for you to deal with altitude sickness. And here we recommend 2 hospitals to you.
  5. Tibet People's Hospital (Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Yiyuan). It is the largest hospital in Lhasa with integrated facilities and experienced doctors. Address: Address: 18 Linkuo N Rd, Chengguan Qu, Lasa Shi, Xizang Zizhiqu, China. Telephone: +86 891 637 1462
  6. Lhasa People's Hospital (Lhasa Renmin Yiyuan)- another public operating hospital. Address: Address: 1 Beijing E Rd, Chengguan Qu, Lasa Shi, Xizang Zizhiqu, China. Telephone: +86 891 632 3302

Travelers' Questions Might Help

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions please contract us, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

Ms. Ho*** from: When to get my Tibet permit
January 15, 2020 05:11

Hello, we are considering to travel in Tibet in summer. We are a family of 5, two adults and three kids, age 13(then), 10, 8. We are interested in the 10 days Mt. EBC & Namtso Lake Group tour. We are US citizens with valid 10-year Chinese multiple entry visa, which we have applied when we went to Beijing in 2019. We are currently living in South Korea.  


1. Are kids suitable (or even allowed) for this tour?  

2. If kids can join, are there any discount deals for kids?

Answered by Helen
January 15, 2020 07:54

Dear Ms. Ho***,

    Greetings from Helen at Budget Tibet Tour and welcome you to join our 10 days Mt. Everest & Namtso Lake group tour. For your questions: 1. Your kids are suitable for this tour. Travelling in Tibet is as safe for kids as it is for their parents. While the high Tibetan plateau may be the highest place on the planet, very often, the kids that visit this region are more adaptable and have fewer problems than their parents. We also have arranged wonderful Tibet tours for many families with kids such as a tour to EBC for a family with a 3-year-old son, a 9-year-old girl and a 11-year-old boy, they did have fun in Tibet and there is no problem for them. Or you can take some medicine under the guidance of doctor to prevent high altitude before enter Tibet. 2. If kids travel with you, we'll offer some discount for them, please check your email and find more detailed information. Thanks & Regards

Email to Helen about any question or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side

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