How to Treat Altitude Sickness?

  • October 27, 2023
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How to Treat Altitude Sickness?

What is Altitude Sickness?

Altitude sickness, also recognized as acute mountain sickness (AMS), manifests when individuals ascend to higher elevations too swiftly, typically beyond 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). This condition is more prevalent among those unaccustomed to such altitudes and is a consequence of diminished air pressure and reduced oxygen levels in the elevated atmosphere. The symptoms arise as the body grapples with the challenge of adjusting to the altered oxygen intake with each breath during rapid ascents to greater heights.

Why Does Altitude Sickness Occur?

Altitude sickness happens because the body needs time to adjust to changes in altitude. As you ascend to higher elevations, the air pressure decreases, and there is less oxygen available. This reduction in oxygen can lead to various symptoms as the body tries to cope with the decreased supply. It primarily affects unacclimatized individuals, and the severity of symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

How Does Altitude Sickness Manifest?

Altitude sickness can manifest in a range of symptoms, and individuals may experience a combination of these. Common symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and difficulty sleeping. In severe cases, it can lead to high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), which can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.