STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: With an aim to sensitise the Amaranth Yatra pilgrims, Dr Sushil Sharma and his team conducted a day-long awareness cum medical check-up camp at Shri Ram Mandir, Purani Mandi. The camp was inaugurated by Shamsher Singh Manhas, Member of Parliament and Mahant Shri 1008 Rameshwar Dass. Dr Sushil said that religious pilgrims have been going to high altitude pilgrimages long before the trekkers and climbers sojourned in high altitude regions. “Nearly all journeys to high altitude pilgrimages are characterised by very rapid ascents, leading to high rates of acute mountain sickness. Symptoms commonly observed in these areas include headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, fatigue and loss of energy, shortness of breath, problem with sleep and loss of appetite. They usually emerge 12-24 hours of reaching a higher elevation and then get better with every passing day. These symptoms should be taken very seriously since some altitude problems can develop into fatal illnesses. A related illness, high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), can occur with or without warning symptoms that signal altitude sickness. HAPE causes fluid to enter the lungs. The symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cough that produces a white or pink frothy sputum are manifestation of HAPE. Another dangerous and fatal reaction to high altitude is a condition called high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), in which the brain accumulates extra fluid, swells and stops working properly leading to confusion and coma,” he said. Elaborating further in specific context of Amarnath Shrine, he maintained that the Shrine is situated at an altitude of about 13,000 ft. Keeping in view such elevation, the trek to the holy cave exposes one to extreme cold, low humidity, increased ultra violet radiations, and reduced air pressure, he said. “Due to the difficult terrain and lack of infrastructure, it has been made mandatory for all pilgrims to undergo medical examination and preparedness to prevent complications. Measures such as climb slowly, stay hydrated, intake of more carbohydrates, cover with proper clothing, stay away from alcohol, smoking and medications like sleeping pills must be observed,” he said and further elaborated that once one develop signs of altitude sickness immediately move to lower elevation. Dr Sushil said that it is often noticed that pilgrim populations lack a proper knowledge of the prospective hazards of travelling to high altitude. “They are thus more likely to be unprepared. Much needs to be done to make them fully aware of the dangers of the journey they are about to undertake and make them fully prepared,” he informed. Mahant Dr Satyanarian Dass and Raju Saluja appreciated the efforts of Dr Sushil and his team for creating awareness on this relevant subject. Others who were instrumental in this activity included Dr Dhaneshwar Kapoor, Dr Akshay Kumar and Dr Kewal Sharma. Paramedics and volunteers included Kamal Sharma, Raghav Rajput, Gourav Heera, Maninder Singh, Aman Gupta, Gourav Sharma, Nitin Verma, Manav Khurana, Akshay Kumar, Rajkumar, Rajeev Vohra, Rohit Chalotra and Suresh Baigra.
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