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

Learn More

To learn more about major and minor emergencies and medical situations enrol in first aid and CPR training courses (more information).

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  • All standardfirstaidtraining.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

  • All standardfirstaidtraining.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

  • All standardfirstaidtraining.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

  • All standardfirstaidtraining.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.