A Trekker's Worst Nightmare: Altitude Sickness

Ascending to any height above 3000 meters has a dangerous effect on our fragile human bodies. It was actually quite scary when I educated myself on the potential symptoms I could experience during the Annapurna Circuit...Julia and I had heard plenty of horror stories from trekkers who succumbed to altitude sickness.
As altitude increases, the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced. As I ascended through the Himalayas, I noticed my body fighting for more oxygen, and my steps were slowed so that my heart wasn't leaping out of my 5 layers of clothes.
The scary thing is that high altitude and lower air pressure causes fluid to leak from the capillaries in both the lungs and the brain...eeek. The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly, so I made sure to follow every trekker's golden rule: Climb high, sleep low.
Some symptoms of altitude sickness...those with a * were personally experienced.
- headache
- stomachache
- fatigue
- vivid and crazy dreams* (I dreamt that I snuck into my old roommate's house and tried on all her clothes, then was in the closet when they came home; another trekker dreamt that he went on a killing rampage with a machete)
- dizziness
- increased urination* (it sucks when you're above 3000 meters, freezing at night, and you have to pee at midnight...and at 1:30 am...and at 5 am)
- loss of coordination
- loss of appetite
- shortness of breath*
- disturbed sleep*
- jealousy of those who can afford hot water bottles*
- hallucinations
- retinal hemorrhage
- increased farting* (really, it happens! It is medically diagnosed as HAFE: high altitude flatulence emission)
- inclination to talk about a hot shower and sunny days on the beach*
- frothing at the mouth
- feeling of suffocation at night
- wanting to spoon with your roommate, regardless of gender, for their body heat*
- feeling drunk
- exponential increase of tea consumption*
- thinking the best place on Earth is in your sleeping bag*
- HAPE: High altitude pulmonary edema, the result of fluid build-up in the lungs
- HACE: High altitude cerebral edema, the result of swelling of brain tissue from fluid leakage
- loss of memory
- bigger calves
- decreased number of showers* (and, above 3500 meters, no showers)
- coma
- weight increase* (due to wearing 5 layers)

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