The information in this section (in bold, below) was originally published by the staff of the U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) at Yokosuka, Japan, for the benefit of military and family members prior to making a Mt. Fuji climb. The Chief Staff Officer and Public Affairs Officer at USNH Yokosuka have graciously given permission for this information to be presented here.
I have reproduced the contents of the USNH article completely, even though there are some references to military medical procedures and records. In these cases, please substitute your own medical history, references, records, etc.
If you are coming from abroad and plan to challenge Mt. Fuji during your stay in Japan, it might be a good idea to find out if your Health Insurance plan covers care for injuries or hospitalization incurred overseas. Japanese health care facilities and hospitals require payment, usually in cash, before a patient can be discharged. Thankfully, the majority of travelers will not need the benefit of the extra coverage. But why take the risk of not being prepared? Peace of mind is a good thing.
Also see my note on health concerns at the Safety Precautions page (also linked below), and check out another reference to High Altitude Medicine on the Links page (also linked below.)
Hiking on Mt. Fuji during the summer climbing season can be fun, rewarding, and a great way to experience Japan. However, people with certain health conditions should know the risks "up front" before lacing on their hiking boots. The information in this pamphlet is not all-inclusive, so if you have any doubts about whether you are healthy enough to climb Fuji, please consult your Primary Care Manager or health care provider.
Sickle Cell Medical Alert
Annually, the Military Hospitals in the Kanto Plain treat several individuals for complications of Sickle Cell Disease. In persons with sickle cell trait, the spleen can infarct (die), and grave conditions can result from the combination of the altitude, extreme physical exertion and dehydration incurred during a Fuji climb.
Sickle cell trait usually runs in people of African or Mediterranean descent but may be present in Caucasians as well. Active duty members are routinely screened for this trait and the results may be found in your medical record. If you are unsure of your results, contact your medical record custodian.
If you have a positive sickle trait, even if you have never been ill from it, the Medical Staff at USNH recommends that you do not climb Mt. Fuji.
Although incidents are relatively rare on Mt. Fuji, anyone can be susceptible to the effects of high-altitude illness, which can include acute mountain sickness, pulmonary edema (swelling of the lungs), and cerebral edema (swelling of the brain).
Symptoms of high-altitude sickness include severe headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, irritability, decreased concentration, and lack of energy.
If these symptoms increase and worsen, the climber should consider descending the mountain, taking supplemental oxygen, and resting. Studies have shown that aspirin, acetaminophen, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can improve symptoms caused by high altitude.
Other high-altitude syndromes
There are other health problems that can be caused or worsened by exposure to high altitude. Most are annoying rather than dangerous, but check with your health care provider if you have any health-threatening conditions, especially Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disease or Coronary Arterial Disease.
Use lots of sunscreen
Climbing Mt. Fuji brings you closer to ultraviolet rays of the sun. Save your skin and prevent cancer by using protective sunscreen.
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