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Heath and safety facilities on Kilimanjaro climbs

Diamox

Using Diamox on Kilimanjaro

What is Diamox?

Diamox (alias Acetazolamide), as it is used for Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is a diuretic (i.e. it promotes the production of urine) and a prophylactic (i.e. is used as a preventative medicine – not a cure).

It is also a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor (ahem, what?). Essentially this means that it promotes the excretion, via urine, of bicarbonate – which is why it is useful for altitude sickness

Diamox and altitude sickness

The excretion of bicarbonate increases the acidity of the blood, as bicarbonate is a conjugate base of carbonic acid. Increased acidity in the blood is equated by our bodies as increased CO2. The body responds to the imaginary excess CO2 by breathing deeper and faster to get rid of the CO2. Deeper, faster breathing increases the amount of oxygen received by the blood. This helps with the acclimatisation process and helps prevent the onset of AMS symptoms.

It is important to note that using Diamox on Kilimanjaro does not cure the symptoms of AMS, it merely helps prevent the onset of symptoms. Once AMS symptoms have started, the only way to stop them is descent. Therefore, under no circumstances should Diamox be used to continue an ascent with AMS.

So is it worth using Diamox on Kilimanjaro?

In short, yes. Anything that is going to help you reach the summit safely should be considered a worthy investment.

Obviously you should first consult your doctor to check whether Diamox is a suitable drug given your particular medical history. It is not suitable for pregnant women or anyone with kidney or liver disease issues (obviously these people shouldn’t be climbing Kilimanjaro in the first place)

We recommend taking Diamox for 2-3 days 2 weeks before departure to test whether you experience any side effects. Again remember to take it a day before you climb.

Typical side effects associated with Diamox are:

Frequent urination – everyone experiences this when taking Diamox. It can result in the development of kidney stones so it is important that you drink loads of fluids whilst taking the medication.

Numbness and tingling in the fingers, toes and face – Many people experience this side effect when taking Diamox. The sensation is a little discomforting but not dangerous
Taste alterations (some foods might taste weird)

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea – this is rare. These side effects should be identified during your test before departing for Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately these side effects are common with AMS and therefore can easily be misdiagnosed as AMS

Drowsiness and confusion is also possible – again these side effects can be confused with AMS

Typically Diamox comes in 250mg tablets. Most people take half a tablet in the morning and half in the evening. You should start taking tablets one day before arriving in Kilimanjaro and continue taking the same dosage for all ascent days. You can cease taking Diamox on descent.

Pulse Oximeter

We provide pulse oximeters or PulseOx to our guides.

What is a pulse oximeter?
A pulse oximeter is a noninvasive method for monitoring a person’s oxygen saturation (SO2) by using beams of light that shine into small blood vessels and capillaries in your finger. The sensor reflects the amount of oxygen in the blood.

This is very important when ascending to high altitudes. It helps our guides have a baseline to work from to make sure our clients are safe on the mountain. We monitor your pulse and blood oxygen levels every morning and evening while on the mountain.


How does a Pulse Oximeter work?
The device is placed on a fingertip. The device passes two wavelengths of light through the body part to a photodetector. It measures the changing absorbance at each of the wavelengths, allowing it to determine the absorbances due to the pulsing arterial blood alone. This excludes venous blood, skin, bone, muscle, fat, and (in most cases) nail polish.

Oxygen saturation is a measurement of how much oxygen your blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum it could carry. Normal blood oxygen levels at sea level are 95-100%.


Why is a Pulse Oximeter Important?
The body deals with this decrease in available oxygen by breathing faster and deeper (even at rest) to increase the oxygen content in the blood (i.e. blood oxygen saturation or SO2).

The optimal oxygen saturation of the blood lies between 95 and 98 percent. This value corresponds to the percentage of haemoglobin molecules which transport oxygen in proportion to the total number of haemoglobin molecules.

A high reading of SpO2 could indicate very good acclimatization, or that the person is hyperventilating from anxiety, or even that he has carbon monoxide poisoning! A lower reading could demonstrate anoxia, oxygen starvation, or it could show that a person is coping very well with altitude. A trained athlete with 65% oxygen saturation may be perfectly safe, whilst a less fit trekker could still be at risk for hypoxemia at 75%. The real purpose of a pulse oximeter is to correlate heartbeat and oxygen saturation in a clinical environment for someone suffering from sleep apnea, heart attack or failure, pneumonia, anaemia and asthma.

In conclusion, we use the pulse oximeters to recognize early signs of impending altitude sickness. We are one of the few companies that use the pulse oximeter. We want you to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro as safely as possible.

Emergency Oxygen Tanks

Emergency Oxygen Tanks

Emergency Oxygen tanks on Kilimanjaro are used as for supplementing oxygen, you must not attempt to hike higher. Although it relieves breathing difficulty and oxygen starvation, it reverses acclimatization changes.

Supplementary oxygen is routinely carried only for emergency treatment and not as an aid to climbers who wish to continue to the summit. It would be a very dangerous practice. However, if you wish to have oxygen aid to the summit our ALTOX Personal Oxygen System are used instead.

Kilimanjaro Brothers advises trekkers to be securely acclimatized before attempting higher altitudes, possibly at least by taking an extra day or two acclimatizing on Kilimanjaro to make summit success more likely and allow you to avoid the worst effects of Altitude Sickness.

Most effects of altitude sickness can be dealt with by simply descending a few hundred feet to more comfortable conditions and resting, but HACE symptoms are not so easily relieved.

Evacuation is essential, since after effects can persist for days or weeks depending on their severity. Your body produces extra red blood corpuscles at altitude to enable your blood to carry more oxygen to the brain, but this process takes a few days and is halted as soon as more oxygen becomes available.

When is Emergency Oxygen Necessary On Mt. Kilimanjaro Treks?

Evacuation is essential, since after effects can persist for days or weeks depending on their severity. Your body produces extra red blood corpuscles at altitude to enable your blood to carry more oxygen to the brain, but this process takes a few days and is halted as soon as more oxygen becomes available.
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Gamow Bag for Kilimanjaro Safety

Gamow bag Kilimanjaro safety equipment

Gamow Bag is a hyperbaric chamber is a sealable pressure vessel large enough for one adult to enter and stretch out, where he or she can be supplied with oxygen under pressure. The Portable Altitude Chamber, PAC, was designed to treat severe altitude sickness when immediate descent, the preferred treatment, is not possible.

At 9,800 feet (3,000 m), the Gamow Bag can simulate a descent of 4,800 feet (1,500 m) making it the best and most effective treatment. The Gamow Bag is only recommended at very high altitudes such as staying at Crater Camp on Mount Kilimanjaro where fast and immediate descent is not feasible. One should never attempt to hike higher, once symptoms arise on a Kilimanjaro trek as they can swiftly develop into High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, HAPE, where lungs are fluid congested and it is necessary to administer extra oxygen through a face mask. This is not possible in a Gamow bag.

Gamow bag Kilimanjaro safety equipment

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ALTOX Personal Oxygen System

ALTOX Personal Oxygen System

On Kilimanjaro climbing it is likely that more than 75% of climbers will experience at least some form of mild altitude sickness. This is caused by a failure of the body to adapt quickly enough to the reduced level of oxygen in the air at the increased altitude. This type of sickness is known as altoxia, a term which is used almost exclusively for Kilimanjaro, since this is the only commonly trekked mountain where these extreme altitudes are encountered so quickly.

Altoxia can have many different symptoms, the most common being headaches, light headedness, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting and a mild swelling of the face, ankles and fingers. These symptoms can be rather unpleasant, can add a new and unnecessary dimension to the adversity faced by trekkers and can really take the shine off the experience. However, in this mild form altoxia does not generally have serious consequences and normally disappears within 48 hours The symptoms of altoxia should be largely if not completely relieved by the use of our ALTOX Personal Oxygen System.

Kilimanjaro Helicopter Rescue

Greeting!

Kilimanjaro Brothers Climbing Adventure we are happy to inform you new Kilimanjaro rescue.

EVACUATION

Kilimanjaro SAR as the emerging new company provides evacuation service and medical emergence. They provide an emergency medical service to ensure your safety while hiking Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru with helicopters that can be deployed within 5 minutes. They ensure a quick response and guarantee your safety regardless the season.

Their helicopter will pick you up from the designated area on the mountain, where their medical team will immediately start an in flight medical treatment. Upon landing at Moshi Airstrip there will be transport, to take you to a place of local residence. If so necessary for further medical attention upon landing, you will be taken to their modern private High Altitude Medical clinic ideal for Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Kilimanjaro SAR accepts insurance with Evacuation coverage up to 6,000 meters above Sea Level. Please be aware that coverage and eligibility requirements for this benefit differ by policy and be sure to Lead more FAQ on Helicopter Rescue Insurance.

Kilimanjaro SAR operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Extremely fast, unique and hustle free way to end your epic adventure after conquering Africa’s highest peak.

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