The main cause of altitude sickness is ascending in altitude too quickly which prevents the body from adapting to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude. Common preventive measures include staying the night before your climb at Kinabalu Park, Kundasang, or Poring Hot Springs in Ranau area (around 1,500m a.s.l), to aid in gradual acclimatisation or taking the altitude sickness tablet.
Keep the 3 golden rules in mind.
- Drink a lot to keep hydrated
- Acclimatize to altitude gradually and it is advisable to spend a night at highland areas before ascending Mount Kinabalu
- Avoid rapid ascents by trekking at a normal pace and resting at the shelters (pondoks) along the way if needed. It is advisable to rest longer for acclimatization at Layang Layang hut (2702M a.s.l).
You may wish to take altitude sickness tablets, Acetazolamide (Diamox) as a prophylaxis. This drug has the effect of increasing acclimatization rates; improving periodic breathing; and helping climbers to recover from AMS more quickly. Please note that Diamox is a prescription drug and a doctor should be consulted about proper dosages.
Alternatively, you may wish to purchase a portable oxygen inhaler bar. The main cause of these sicknesses is a lack of oxygen; breathing oxygen with the aid of the inhaler will slow their onset and may provide some temporary relief of symptoms. This is extremely useful to all climbers regardless of your fitness level.