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Pre-travel and on-site medical adherence and compliance of trekkers to Everest Base Camp
journal contributionposted on 15.05.2019, 00:00 by Wendy Hillman
Trekkers to Nepal frequently succumb to a number of medical conditions. Among these are Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Many international trekkers do not familiarise themselves with tourist health care information prior to departure. Seeking out necessary health care information could be better managed by health care professionals and by the trekkers themselves before they leave home. Linking observance of pre-trip health advice sought to travel health outcomes, the study contrasts differences between English speaking trekkers in the Nepal Himalaya with regards to health care information before departure on treks. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were carried out with twenty-eight participants. Each participant was interviewed either on a trek to Everest Base Camp, or after they had completed a trek and returned to Kathmandu. Seventeen females and eleven males ranging in ages from 20 to 70 years of age formed the participant cohort. The study was undertaken over a two year timeframe while the author was in Nepal. Grounded Theory was used as the methodological approach to the data analysis. While older trekkers made visits to health care professionals, some younger travellers were less concerned about their health. Diahorrea, food poisoning, and unpotable water, were common ailments hindering trekkers. Well known remedies for AMS – ‘go high, sleep low’ – ‘descent is the only cure’, were commonly cited as how best to deal with altitude sickness. Fewer than 50 percent of travellers confer with their GPs before leaving home. Of all medical conditions possible to contract, AMS was deemed the most important by all participants. Most mature-aged trekkers consulted with the doctors, while those under fifty appeared to have no need of any pre-trip medical consultation. All trekkers would be better served by consulting with a medical professional prior to departure. This then, provides a focus for both the tourism industry and the medical fraternity to achieve.