MOUNTAIN SICKNESS EXPLAINED

Acute Mountain sickness (AMS) is the term given to a number of symptoms that occur after rapid ascent to high altitude. Mild forms of this illness can affect up to 50% of population traveling to altitudes above 12,000 – 14,000 ft. Severe forms may be life threatening because of pulmonary or cerebral oedema.

The mild forms of mountain sickness can usually be treated with rest, hydration, analgesics (eg. ibuprofen), and alcohol avoidance. If you are already experiencing these symptoms do not go to higher altitudes.
Symptoms of headache, malaise, and decreased appetite are fairly common amongst individuals traveling to altitudes greater than 8,000 ft, but these can occur event at lower altitudes.

Slow progressive step-acclimatisation minimises the risk of AMS.
Individuals who have already experienced an episode of mountain sickness are at risk for future trips and should seek medical advice.

Severe forms are characterized by severe shortness of breath, cough, severe headache, confusion, or hallucinations. This may progress to coma and death. This is a medical emergency. Immediate descent to lower altitude, administration of oxygen, and medical attention are required.

A very effective way of minimising the adverse effects of mountain sickness is preacclimation using
hypoxicators for simulated altitude training.

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