Health information for Argentina
Informations about vaccines and tips to avoid altitude sickness in Argentina.
Health Care and Prevention
Medicines and infrastructure
We recommend travelers receiving regular treatment to take sufficient medicines for the whole duration of the trip. Health infrastructure is quite satisfactory in the big cities, where you will find a solution to any medical or surgical issue previous communication with your traveler assistance and eventually with the consular services of your country of origin. Medical and hospital charges may be quite expensive at private health institutions. Medical doctors and hospitals require foreigners to pay the total amount of expenses in cash prior to undergoing any surgery. For such reason, tourists are recommended, before departure, to take up medical insurance covering all type of expenses as well as repatriation costs.
There is no mandatory vaccines requirement to enter the country.
As in any other trip, we recommend you to have such vaccines as diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, A and B hepatitis, eventually typhoid fever and yellow fever (there may be some cases at the Northeastern tropical regions).
As regards malaria, the risk is very low and it is limited to certain rural areas of the provinces of Jujuy and Salta, along the border with Bolivia, and those areas of Misiones and Corrientes limiting with Paraguay. Recommended medicine: chloroquine.
We would like you to be aware that in certain northern provinces (Corrientes and Chaco), there are some risks, though quite uncertain, to be beaten by snakes (rattlesnake or cobras).
Running water is safe in many places but, as precaution, we suggest taking mineral water that you may get at any town or city. This info is not for you to be alarmed, but warned.
Most people enjoying good health will easily acclimate to altitude provided they follow some simple rules, however: be careful not to take unnecessary risks. When you are at high altitudes, the atmospheric pressure falls as well as oxygen pressure: this means, there are less oxygen molecules the body can take in the same air volume. The body reacts to this lack of oxygen or hypoxia by: increasing ventilation and heart rate to try to get more oxygen from the air and take it as faster as possible to the organs that so require it.
This reaction—that will last for a few days—has a substantial effect on the body as to the energy level given that respiratory and heart muscles will have to work harder. However, this procedure will be completed or replaced by another more cost-effective one: an in increase in the number of oxygen transporters, i.e., blood cells produced by the bone marrow. Production time denotes that, at least, one week at sufficient altitude is required for an increase in the blood to be actually observed. Ventilation and heart rate may then diminish but not necessarily to base values, mainly if ascent is to continue. There will also be complex changes in hormones that help prevent body’s fluid retention, an important sign of improper altitude acclimation.
Who can be affected?
The main factor that causes altitude sickness is a sudden ascent. It usually appears around at 3,500m, but sometimes as from 2,000m when exercising or 3,000m when not exercising. Age is not a factor here. However, youngsters and sport people are generally more affected since they tend to climb up at greater speed. Risk increases over 1,800m for babies under 12-month old. Training is good, but not necessarily a prevention. The sole essential factor is the genetics of each individual.
Headaches (96% of the cases), lack of appetite (38%), nauseas (35%), disturbed sleep (70%), dizziness, vomiting, short of breath while sleeping, abnormal or excessive fatigue, and decrease in urine production. The test for early detection of this disease is to walk placing a foot aligned with the other over a straight line drawn on the floor, or close your eyes with your arms lying down to both sides of the body. If you can not stand still, you are definitely suffering from altitude sickness. Most serious symptoms are vomiting, lack of balance, changes in behavior, signs of lung or brain edema with fatal consequences.
How to avoid altitude sickness
Mountain sickness prevention
Not going up so high so quickly in case of climbing on foot: 300-500 m a day over 3,500 m. Avoid unnecessary or excessive physical efforts such as: hurrying to take photos. Drink lots of water. Drink water regularly to remain properly hydrated and urinate regularly since edema is caused by fluid retention. Avoid depressants that favor breath breaks while sleeping, causing a more serious hypoxia. Do not ignore symptoms: the ventilatory response to hypoxia is genetically determined; thus, within the same group, some people may find it easier to acclimate. Avoid any paracetamol-alcohol mix. Aspirin, however, has no contra-indications. Drink coca tea, a coca leave-based beverage that is highly effective to prevent “apunamiento”.
Mountain sickness treatment
Descent is always simple, provided the waiting period is not very excessive. Taking long breaths for some minutes will usually help you feel better prepared to start the descent. Taking of oxygen does not work as stimulant, but enables a more suitable descent. For lighter symptoms: aspirin and/or paracetamol, a maximum of 3 g/day, either cumulative or alternated.