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Medical Advice for Mount Kinabalu Climbers

After preparing your health and fitness before the climb, you have to prepare for any medical ailments during the climb. Most of the problems during the climb involved are acute mountain sickness, ankle and knee injuries, hand blisters and stomach problem (from the untreated mountain water). It is advisable for you to have  your own personal first aid pack. Although your guide and the Kinabalu Park Rangers have first aid box, most of the time it is not that complete. Below are the suggested medications that should be in your own personal first aid pack.

Should I take malaria prevention medication before going to Mount Kinabalu?

PERSONAL FIRST AID PACK

ALTITUDE SICKNESS

As Mount Kinabalu is categorized in Very High altitude scale (12,000 - 18,000 feet [3,658 - 5,487 meters]), the risk of you getting altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness (AMS) is there. Laban Rata, the place for you to stay overnight before ascending to Low's Peak is at the High altitude scale (8,000 - 12,000 feet [2,438 - 3,658 meters]). Since few people have been to such altitudes, it is hard to know who may be affected. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness.  Some people get it and some people don't, and some people are more susceptible than others. Most people can go up to 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) with minimal effect. If you haven't been to high altitude before, it's important to be cautious.

AMS is common at high altitudes. At elevations over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), 75% of people will have mild symptoms (Laban Rata is at 3,270 meters/10,728 feet). The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. The symptoms of Mild AMS are headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, disturbed sleep, and a general feeling of malaise. Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. If you experience the above symptoms, panadol/paracetamol or brufen (painkiller) usually adequate to relieve the symptoms. If the symptoms persistent and not relieved by medications, it is advisable not to continue your climb. However, most of the climbers is up and running again with some panadol.

These are some tips for prevention of AMS:

Source: Outdoor Action Guide to High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses by Rick Curtis, Director, Outdoor Action Program

If you would like to know more about Acute Mountain Sickness, 'Altitude Sickness' is a very good travel companion guidebook to have. It is lightweight and handy, very suitable for you to read it during your leisure time at Laban Rata.

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