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Altitude Sickness and other diseases

LiveTheLifeinEcuador  | March 9, 2016

cc323537-624e-4c1e-bf78-11ddad7c3d5cEcuador has its own fair share of scary-sounding tropical diseases, but don’t fret – the country has excellent medical facilities and private clinics that will attend to your needs, but let’s hope that’s not the case. Steel yourself against these diseases while you’re in Ecuador.

Insect-borne diseases

Being a tropical country that is home to sprawling rainforests, it isn’t much of a surprise that insect-borne diseases are quite popular in Ecuador. Malaria and dengue fever are the most common insect-borne diseases in the country, particularly in the coastal region and predominantly during the rainy season.

To avoid getting bitten by a carrier, take care to make the following precautions:

  • Cover as much skin as possible.
  • Use light-colored clothing with a loose fit but tight cuffs
  • Use insect repellent religiously.
  • Use a mosquito net, preferably one that’s been treated with permethrin repellent.

Other insect-borne diseases include river blindness, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis, but these diseases are quite rare.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

Often referred to as sorocheby Ecuadorians, AMS happens when you fail to acclimatize properly. It doesn’t matter if you’re physically fit – as long as the acclimatization process fails to match with your ascent pace, you’ve no escape from its clutches. Symptoms include insomnia, extreme tiredness, nausea, headache, confusion, and dizziness. To treat acute mountain sickness, you simply need to lose some altitude.

If you fail to recover from AMS, it can develop into two life-threatening forms: high altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPO) and high altitude cerebaloedema (HACO).

You’re most likely to get HAPO if there’s a build-up of liquid in your lungs. Symptoms include an increased pulsed rate and fever. If you get HAPO, please descend as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, HACO is HAPO’s more severe yet rare brother. HACO is caused when your brain gets waterlogged with fluid. You have HACO if you experience the following: loss of balance, severe lassitude, weakness on one side of the body, a confused mental state, and loss of coordination. HACO is fatal within 24 hours, so immediate loss of altitude and medical attention is of utmost importance.

We’re just barely scratching the surface of diseases in Ecuador. If you want to know more, check out this great article by Rough Guides. For any concerns, you can email me at See you in paradise!