Can you climb Kilimanjaro with asthma?

Yes, individuals with asthma can climb Kilimanjaro, but it requires careful preparation and consideration of potential risks. Since asthma varies from person to person, the impact of high altitude can affect individuals differently. Here are some important points to understand for asthma sufferers planning to climb Kilimanjaro:

  1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): As you climb to higher altitudes, the available oxygen per breath decreases, leading to altitude sickness. Proper acclimatization is crucial to avoid AMS. Altitude sickness can cause symptoms similar to an asthma attack, and it is essential to differentiate between the two.
  2. Cold Weather: At high altitudes, temperatures can drop significantly, especially during summit night. Cold weather can trigger asthma symptoms in some individuals, so proper clothing and precautions are necessary to stay warm.
  3. Exercise-induced Asthma: Climbing Kilimanjaro involves physical exertion, which may trigger exercise-induced asthma. It is crucial to be as fit as possible before the climb and proceed at a slow pace to aid acclimatization.
  4. Allergies: Some asthma sufferers may experience improved symptoms at high altitudes if their asthma is triggered by allergens like pollen and dust mites, which are generally lower at altitude.

Best practices for climbing Kilimanjaro with asthma include:

  • Ensure your asthma is well-controlled before the climb and consult with your doctor to review your condition and trekking plans.
  • Carry your inhaler and any other necessary medications with you at all times during the climb.
  • Choose a trek that allows adequate time for acclimatization, such as the 7 or 8-day Lemosho route or the 7-day Machame route.
  • Go slowly throughout the trek, stay hydrated, and monitor your breathing closely.
  • Obtain appropriate trekking insurance that covers asthma-related issues.
  • To acclimatize, take your time when you ascend to higher altitudes.
  • Put on a warm, puffy jacket that will keep you warm at higher elevations.
  • Maintain your level of fitness; it is advised to attempt a few shorter hikes before trying Kilimanjaro.
  • Carry an attack card for asthma and give it to your operators so they’ll know what to do if you get an attack.

It’s important to remember that climbing Kilimanjaro is physically demanding, and individuals with asthma should consult with their healthcare provider and undergo thorough preparations before attempting the climb. Proper planning and precautions can help asthma sufferers have a successful and safe experience on the mountain.


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