One of the best things to keep your body warm while trekking is brandy or rum.
The above phrase might look apt but a real fact is that its a myth. I am an experienced trekker and apart from trekking and mountaineering expedition I create awareness about what can be the pitfalls and necessary things that can be done while trekking. Infact consuming alcohol keeps your body temperature low that can results in Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) and Hypothermia. This is a serious and common sickness and is considered as a health hazard for trekkers. Here are some facts related to alcohol consumed by the trekkers and its consequences.
Many people have misconception about alcohol that it is the easiest and cheapest way to warm up a body. At higher altitude where temperature is always on the lower side, the inexperienced trekker always goes for handful peg of rum which is actually an invitation for a very common sickness called Hypothermia. Alcohol increases the rate of adrenalin, this causes blood vessel to dilate, this dilation makes the blood flow to the surface of the skin. This makes the trekker to feel warmer from inside but it actually decreases the temperature of the body. Hyperthermia can be of mild, moderate or severe condition but all the condition has same symptoms. There will be decrement in the breathing rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and body will start shivering. It directly affects the nervous system and due to this major organ fails resulting in clinical death or brain death.
Hypothermia can be avoided if taken proper precautions. First and foremost precaution is to neglect or avoid the alcohol while trekking. Outfit must be of synthetic or woollen fabrics, avoid cotton during a trek and the out must cover a body properly. No part must be exposed to cold. There are also some rewarming techniques like bornfire, sleeping bags and the instructions of the trek leader are recommended to the trekkers. The main reason about the above mentioned ailment is alcohol, hence drop the habit of drinking especially on a trek of higher altitude.
Another kind of sickness is Altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). When alcohol is consumed, the water level in body decreases resulting in dehydration. In dehydration the water vapour disappears from the lungs and contributes to the symptoms of AMS. Symptoms like headache, dizziness, weakness, insomnia, vomiting, etc are some other facts that results in AMS. It is also considered that 1 peg of alcohol at higher altitude is same as 2 to 3 pegs of alcohol at sea level. AMS results in reduced blood pressure and haemoglobin that eventually reduces the oxygen level from the body.
Proper care and attention must be taken by the people trekking for the first time in their life. Drink as much water to prevent the body from dehydration. If you are suffering from any kind of ailment, make it noticeable to your trek leader as they will provide you excellent guidance and ailment related precautions while trekking at higher altitude. It is better to give away the drinking habit from atleast 72 hrs before the trek and even if the alcohol is suspended before and later 1 week, the trekkers will also get suspended from serious hectic problems. The whole life is left to consume Alcohol so just avoid it on trekking. Ergo avoid drinking, drink gallons of water and most importantly follow the instruction of trek leader so that you can live your trek to the fullest and can enjoy its every moment.
Written By: Sandeep Rawat