altitude sickness

Managing Altitude sickness

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Signs and Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

If a person is suffering from altitude or mountain sickness, he may suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Interrupted sleep and other sleep problems
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling around the arms and legs

The symptoms of severe altitude sickness, high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) and high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) include:

  • Breathlessness while resting
  • Coughing out frothy pink sputum or phlegm
  • Cracking sound produced in the lungs
  • Severe headache
  • Altered vision
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of balance and control
  • Coma–in the case of HACE

First aid for altitude sickness

1. Treat the symptoms of the condition

  • Give oxygen to the casualty, if available
  • Make sure the casualty is warm–cover him with a blanket. Encourage him or her to rest
  • Give the casualty plenty of fluids
  • For headaches, you may give him or her over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen

2. See your doctor

  • If symptoms, even if mild, persist for several days even at low altitude
  • if the person experiences symptoms after coming to a low altitude area
  • If symptoms are severe–see you health care provider as soon as possible. This should be done even if the symptoms disappear after the descent

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