What is altitude sickness?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) or altitude illness is a pathological condition that is caused by acute exposure to high altitudes. It commonly occurs above 2,400 metres (approximately 8,000 feet)[citation needed]. Acute mountain sickness can progress to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).

    Another, rarer, type of altitude sickness caused by prolonged exposure to high altitude is chronic mountain sickness, also known as Monge's disease.

    Altitude Sickness

    Preventing Acute Mountain Sickness

    Acute mountain sickness is caused by a lack of oxygen when traveling to higher elevations. This usually occurs in individuals exposed to an altitude over 7,000 feet (2,100 m) who have not had a chance to acclimate to the altitude before engaging in physical activities. Mountain climbers, trekkers, skiers, and travelers to the Andes or Himalayas are at greatest risk. While individual tolerance varies, symptoms usually appear in several hours, with those in poor physical condition being most susceptible. Headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, and poor appetite occur initially. Inability to sleep is also frequently reported. In more severe cases thinking and judgement may become impaired. An uncommon but potentially fatal complication called high altitude pulmonary edema, caused by fluid build-up in the lungs, can also occur.

    The symptoms of acute mountain sickness can be prevented or minimized by gradually ascending (less than 500 meters/day)over several days to give your body a chance to acclimate to the higher altitude. Taking the prescription medication Diamox (acetazolamide) 250 mg three times a day has been shown to speed up the acclimatization process and can be taken shortly before and during the ascent. Do not take this medication if you are allergic to sulfa drugs. This medication is a mild diuretic and may work by changing the body's acid-base balance and stimulating breathing. Dexamethasone 8 mg once a day has also been shown to be effective. However, this steroid medication may have more adverse effects. Once symptoms occur, they usually improve over several days without treatment. However, if they become severe, they can be relieved with the administration of oxygen or descent to a lower altitude.

  • 4 years ago

    Define Altitude Sickness

  • 1 decade ago

    It's pretty much what it sounds like -- sickness caused by changes in altitude, usually when you go from a city at or near sea leavel like Chicago to a city well above sea level like Denver. Symptoms can include severe headaches, shortness of breath, dehydration, dizziness, malaise, etc. Best defense against altitude sickness is to drink more water -- dehydration seems to be the biggest problem and easiest to fix. Also, be careful when consuming alcoholic beverages at higher altitude -- it hits you a lot harder when you're higher up.

  • 1 decade ago

    Altitude sickness is when people get sick when they go from one altitude to another in a short period of time. It is most common when people go into an airplane, during take off and landing.

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  • beez
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    A big change in altitude can cause some people to become dizzy, nauseated and extremely tired. Alcohol has a greater affect on a person in high altitude. Get plenty of rest, don't push yourself and you'll become adjusted. It has to do with the inner ear and less oxygen in the air.

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