Mild altitude sickness is called acute mountain sickness (AMS) and is quite similar to a hangover – it causes headache, nausea, and fatigue. It is sometimes colloquially referred to as altitude sickness or mountain sickness and in South America it is called soroche. It is very common – some people are only slightly affected, others feel awful.
Physically fit people are not protected – even Olympic athletes can get altitude sickness. Altitude sickness happens because there is less oxygen in the air that you breathe at high altitudes. Most people remain well at altitudes of up to 2500m, however even at around 1500m above sea level you may notice more breathlessness than normal. Above 2500m, the symptoms of altitude sickness become more noticeable.
Symptoms: The most prominent symptom is usually headache, and most people also experience nausea and even vomiting, lethargy, dizziness and poor sleep. Symptoms are very similar to a really bad hangover.
Prevention: Ascend slowly, take it easy, and give your body time to get used to the altitude. The body has an amazing ability to acclimatise to altitude, but it needs time.
While traveling in the Amazon, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. Long sleeves, long pants, hats, and bug repellent are advisable. Mosquitos are most active during the morning, night, and in the deep rainforest. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Talk to your travel medicine specialist about how you can prevent malaria while traveling. 100% DEET spray or roll on is recommended.