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What's in a Good Medical Kit?

You need to plan ahead to organize your personal medical equipment for a rigorous high altitude expedition – whether you’re climbing or trekking, dedicate some forethought to researching the local risks, potential disease exposures, and typical injuries you may encounter. No matter how much equipment you decide to bring, you cannot possibly prepare for every eventuality.

So, what should you take? Minimalists might say, "nothing but a triangular bandage and Swiss army knife," and others might assemble a collection that would stagger a porter. Remember, overly bulky kits are often left behind.

The contents of a kit depend on many on many factors
  • Environmental extremes
  • Endemic diseases (i.e. rabies, malaria, etc)
  • Your medical expertise
  • Length of trip
  • Availability of rescue (i.e. helicopter)
  • Distance from definitive medical care
  • Make sure that your vaccinations are up to date several months before travel. Visit your doctor or local health department for advice, but also do the homework on your own – access the CDC website for up to date information on recommended vaccinations for your destination. - www.cdc.gov

    Personal Medical Kits

    Each expedition member should carry his/her own personal kit; consider including these basic (but VERY IMPORTANT!) items:

    The contents of a kit depend on many on many factors
    • Non-narcotic pain relievers (acetaminophen or paracetamol, ibuprofen)
    • Anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen)
    • Throat lozenges
    • Sunscreen and lip protection
    • Minor wound care supplies:
      • Betadine or iodine type disinfectant solution
      • Bandaids
      • Moleskin or favorite blister remedy
      • Tape
      • Nonstick bandages
      • Antibiotic ointment
      • Insect repellent if you travel through warmer climates en route
      • Malaria prophylaxis prescription medications (if risk exists during your travel to altitude)
      • Anti-diarrheal medication (loperamide is good)
      • Antacids
      • Anti-oxidant vitamins
      • ORS (oral rehydration solution) – available in small packets to be reconstituted with water, provides electrolytes for replacing losses from vomiting/diarrhea
      • Personal medications (for pre-existing problems)
      • For women, supplies for menstrual flow