Altitude Sickness

What is high-altitude or mountain sickness?
At high altitudes, the amount of oxygen in the air is reduced. the resulting low levels of oxygen in the blood and tissues cause symptoms such as headache, fatigue, unsteadiness, and nausea. this condition is known as altitude sickness. altitude sickness usually affects mountaineers, but people flying from sea level to a high-altitude location may experience some mild altitude sickness upon arrival. the severity of the illness depends on how high and fast a person ascends, but altitude sickness is rare below 8,000 ft. (2,400 m).
Sometimes people get sick at high altitudes, such as in the mountains. This is called mountain sickness or high-altitude sickness.

What causes this problem?
Lack of oxygen causes high-altitude sickness. As altitude increases, the air becomes “thinner,” which means less oxygen is in the atmosphere. You get less oxygen in your lungs with each breath, so the amount of oxygen in your blood declines. (This is called hypoxia) (hi-POKS’e-ah). All people can experience mountain sickness, but it may be more severe in people who have heart or lung problems.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms usually begin within 48 hours of arriving at high altitude. The higher the altitude, the greater the effects. People can notice effects when they go to an altitude of 7,000 to 8,000 feet. If you have heart disease (such as heart failure) or lung disease (such as emphysema), you may have symptoms at lower altitudes.

Symptoms may begin to develop about 6 hours after arriving at high altitude. symptoms may include:

· headache
· fatigue and weakness
· unsteadiness.
· nausea or vomiting
.inability to sleep
.swelling of the face, hands and feet

symptoms are usually mild and disappear within 1-2 days if you do not ascend further. in some people, more severe symptoms, including shortness of breath and vomiting, may appear within 36 hours. rarely, fluid may build up in the lungs and result in a cough with frothy sputum. the brain may swell, initially causing difficulty walking and clumsy movements. if altitude sickness is left untreated, further symptoms may develop, including confusion, seizures, and even coma.

Both heart rate and breathing rate increase as the body tries to send more oxygen to its tissues. At very high altitudes, body fluid can leak into the brain (called brain or cerebral edema) or into the lungs (pulmonary edema). Both these conditions can be serious or even life-threatening.

What One can do?

If you have mild altitude sickness, rest, analgesics, plenty of fluids, and a light diet should enable you to acclimatize to the altitude. a further ascent should not be attempted until all your symptoms have subsided.

in severe cases, a rapid descent to a lower altitude may be essential. even descending only 1,000 ft (300m) may lead to an improvement. if symptoms persist, hospital admission is essential.

Can it be prevented?
Good physical preparation and a high level of fitness are essential prerequisites for climbing at high altitudes. ascents to high altitudes should be staged and gradual and should include intervals of a few days spent at intermediate altitudes before climbing higher.

plenty of fluids should be taken on climbs. occasionally, the drug acetazolamide may be prescribed before hand to reduce susceptibility to altitude sickness. an oxygen supply should be part of the equipment for people climbing about 12,000 ft (3,700 m) because it may be necessary for treating unforeseen cases of altitude sickness.

AHA Recommendation
The best way to avoid or lessen the effects of mountain sickness is to increase altitude slowly. Climbers and hikers can take two days to reach 8,000 feet, and then another day for each 1,000 to 2,000 higher feet. This may not be an option for people who travel to a destination at high altitude. Most people can adjust or “acclimatize” to the high altitude within a few days. Here are some tips:

Avoid strenuous activity for the first day or two.
Drink extra fluid.
Be careful of drinking alcohol. Its effect is magnified at high altitude.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent or treat altitude sickness.
If you have a heart or lung condition, consult your physician before going to high altitude. He or she can tell you whether your condition will let your body adjust to the lower oxygen in the atmosphere.

A most common Home Remedy for temporary but immediate relief is to drink tepid worm water and take rest.

Ayurvedic recomended Medicine :Vomitab


Click for more knowledge on Altitude Sickness , prevention & treatment

For more knowledge of Altitude sickness

High-Altitude Medical Guide

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.

One thought on “Altitude Sickness

  1. Katie

    I am looking at climbing Mount Kilimanjaro next year. Looks like I will ask my physician for acetazolamide as this should help stop the altitude sickness.


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