What Is Acute Mountain Sickness?

Hikers, skiers and adventurers who travel to high altitudes can sometimes develop acute mountain sickness, also referred to as altitude sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema. It typically occurs at about 8,000 feet, or 2,400 meters above sea level. i!!iness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath are a few symptoms of this condition. "ost instances of altitude sickness are mild and heal #uickly. In rare cases, however, altitude sickness can become severe, causing complications with the lungs or brain.

What Causes Acute Mountain Sickness?
Higher altitudes contain lower o$ygen and decreased air pressure. %hen you travel in a plane, drive or hike up a mountain, or go skiing, your body may not have enough time to ad&ust, resulting in altitude sickness. 'enerally, your level of e$ertion plays a role. (ushing yourself to #uickly hike up a mountain, for e$ample, may cause acute mountain sickness.

Who Is at Risk for Acute Mountain Sickness?
)our risk of e$periencing acute mountain sickness is greater if you live by or near the sea and are unaccustomed to higher altitudes. *ther risk factors include+
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#uick movement to high altitudes physical e$ertion while traveling to a higher altitude traveling to e$treme heights ,for e$ample, anything above -4,000 feet. a low red blood cell count due to anemia heart or lung disease past bouts of acute mountain sickness

What are the Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness?
/he symptoms of altitude sickness generally appear within hours of moving to higher altitudes, and vary depending on the severity of your condition. If you have a mild case, you may e$perience+
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di!!iness headache muscle aches insomnia nausea and vomiting

feet. *r you may suffer from shortness of breath caused by fluid in the lungs. affecting your heart. /he condition is much easier to treat if you address it before it progresses.• • • • • irritability loss of appetite swelling of the hands. you may e$perience confusion as a result of brain swelling. and recent travels. muscles. How is Acute Mountain Sickness Treated? /reatment for acute mountain sickness varies depending on its severity. *$ygen may be administered if you are e$periencing breathing issues. 1or e$ample. 0ymptoms of severe altitude sickness may include+ • • • • • coughing chest congestion pale comple$ion and skin discoloration inability to walk or lack of balance social withdrawal 0eek medical attention as soon as possible. Medications "edications for altitude sickness include+ • • aceta!olamide to correct breathing problems blood pressure medicine . Hospitli!ation is re#uired if your doctor determines that there is brain swelling or fluid in your lungs. )ou might be able to avoid complications by simply returning to a lower altitude. uring the e$am. lungs. and face rapid heartbeat shortness of breath with physical e$ertion 0evere cases of acute mountain sickness can cause more intense symptoms. /o pinpoint the severity of the condition. How Is Acute Mountain Sickness Diagnosed? )our doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms. and nervous system. your doctor will most likely use a stethoscope to listen for fluid in your lungs. activities. your physician may also order a chest 23ray.

000 feet. 6arry o$ygen with you when climbing above 7. 4eview the symptoms of mountain sickness so you can recogni!e and treat them #uickly if they occur.000 to -0. Instead of moving from !ero to 8.. but may last up to two days. prevent acute mountain sickness by doing the following+ • • • • 6limb gradually. resulting in coma or death. complications can lead to swelling in the brain and lungs. including+ • • • • returning to a lower altitude reducing your activity level resting for at least a day before moving to a higher altitude hydrating with water ut!ook "ost people are able to recover from a mild case of acute mountain sickness #uickly after returning to lower altitudes. "re#ention Here are important preventive steps to take before traveling to high altitudes+ • • • 'et a physical to make sure you have no serious health issues. rink plenty of fluids. if your condition is severe and there is little access to treatment.higher than -0.000 feet all in one day.000 feet.• • • lung inhalers de$amethasone to decrease brain swelling aspirin for headache relief ther Treatments 0ome basic interventions may be able to treat milder conditions. /herefore. However. If traveling to e$treme altitudes . if possible. %hen climbing to higher altitudes. ask your doctor about aceta!olamide. 0ymptoms typically subside within hours. for e$ample. rest for a day after every 2. . 4eturn to sleep in lower altitudes to give your body a break. a medication that can ease your body5s ad&ustment to high altitudes.000 feet. /aking it the day before you climb and on the first day or two can lessen your symptoms. it is essential to plan ahead when traveling to high altitude locations.

• • • 8void alcoholic beverages. particularly in the initial climb. 8void climbing to high altitudes if you have any of the following conditions or if these situations apply to you+ • • • Anemia$ Having anemia causes a low red blood cell count. 8sk your doctor about taking an iron supplement. narcotic pain relievers and tran#uili!ers. which reduces the amount of o$ygen in your blood. Heart and !ung disease. %ou fe!t i!! in the past during pre#ious c!im&s$ • . 9at fre#uent. and treat the issue before going to high altitudes. %ou take drugs that !ower your &reathing rate$ If you take medications like sleeping pills. 8void unnecessary physical e$ertion. If you have either heart or lung disease. high3carbohydrate meals. check with your doctor before climbing to high altitudes. the combination of high altitudes and low o$ygen can be difficult to endure.