Trekking in Tibet is relatively safe despite the remoteness of trekking areas; with common sense, preparation, and some basic medical knowledge, most illnesses or injures can be treated with a properly stocked personal first-aid kit.
There is no emergency helicopter service in Tibet. If anybody becomes sick or injured and requires evacuation, he or she must be carried or ride a pack animal to the nearest road head. An emergency ambulance service (dail 120) is now operational in Lhasa and will expand to cover central Tibet.
Prior to departure, visit your physician. Most treks in Tibet are rather strenuous and occur at elevations from 12,000 to 17,000 feet (3660 to 5200). People with diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure can successfully trek in Tibet, but should check with doctor about potential problems and precautions.
Always carry a basic first-aid kit, even if you are with a commercial trekking company. The quantities suggested below are based on the needs of one person during a three-week visit in Tibet. Consult your doctor for appropriate dosages. A must for all trekking group first-aid kits is James Wilkerson’s Medicine for Mountaineering.
Analgesics and anti- inflammatory
Aspirin, Acetaminophen, or Paracetamol.
20 tablets (5 grains / 325 to 500 mg). Aspirin is better as an anti-inflammatory.
Acetaminophen or Paracetamol with codeine
10 tablets (325 mg plus 30 mg codeine). Good for moderately severe pain and to suppress coughs.
10 tablets (200 or 400 mg). A good anti-inflammatory.
20 tablets (250 mg). A penicillin-based drug for skin infections and abscesses, and for chest, urinary, inner ear, and sinus infections. Substitute with Erythromycin (250 mg) for those allergic to penicillin.
10 “double-strength” tablets (160 mg/ 800 mg) for urinary infections, chest infections, and sinusitis.
4 to 8 tablets (500 mg) for intestinal parasites such as giardia and amebas. Substitute 15 to 30 tablets of metronidazole (200 mg)
24 tablets (400 mg) for treating bacterial diarrhea. Ciprofloxacin (500 mg) is equually effective but expensive.
Ophthalmic antibiotic cream or drops
To relieve conjunctivitis and other eye infections.
May prevent slightly infected cuts from worsening.
Antidiarrhea and gastrointestinal medications
Loperamide or Lomotil
10 tablets to stop diarrhea.
Antacid tablets (optional)
24 tablets for upset or acid stomach.
Oral rehydration salts
2 packets for diarrhea.
Antiworm medication/Antihelminth (optional)
6 tablets (100 mg).
5 suppositories of tablets.
Antivomiting medication (optional)
5 suppositories or tablets (25 mg)
Diphenhydramine (50 mg) or Chlorpheniramine (4 mg).
5 tablets for severe itching, rashes, or swelling from allergic reactions or for insect bites, hay fever, cold symptoms, motion sickness, and insomnia at high elevations.
10 tablets for relief of cold and sinus symptoms.
10 pieces or more (hard candies are a good substitute).
Nose spray or drops (optional)
1 small bottle (0.25 to 0.50 percent solution).
Aromatic balms (optional)
Used as an inhalant or a chest or a rub; several brands are also excellent topical anti-inflammatories for muscle pain.
10 tablets (250 mg) for prevention of AMS.
5 tablets (4 mg) for high altitude cerebral edema (emergency use only