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Are you planning a mountain climbing trip? Are you considering renting a cabin in the mountains? Are you planning a ski trip later this year?
In either case, you should be aware of the risk of altitude sickness. Acute Mountain sickness affects 25% of travelers sleeping above 8000 feet in Colorado alone. While this common altitude sickness typically resolves on its own, there are cases in which it can develop into more severe and life-threatening altitude sicknesses.
You shouldn’t travel to any high places without preparing for this risk. To help you be prepared, here is information on how to treat altitude sickness.
Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
Symptoms of mild altitude sickness usually start within a day of arriving at a high altitude. They include dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping.
These symptoms are elevated with moderate altitude sickness. Fatigue is much worse, and a person may also experience tightness in their chest making breathing more difficult. A person may also experience headaches and nausea and struggle with coordination.
Severe altitude sickness may include symptoms such as inability to walk, confusion, and the build-up of fluid in the lungs or brain. The fluid in the lungs can cause HAPE, restricting oxygen flow in the body. The build-up of brain fluid can cause HACE, which is the swelling of brain tissue.
Ways to Treat Altitude Sickness
Treating altitude sickness depends on the severity of the case. Mild and moderate altitude sickness symptoms typically subside in a day or two. However, severe altitude sickness is nothing short of an emergency, and one that can be life-threatening.
If one is experiencing any of the symptoms of severe altitude sickness, they must immediately be taken down to an elevation of no more than 4000 feet. Their condition may require hospitalization.
A doctor may prescribe medicine to treat altitude sickness. For those suffering from HACE, a doctor may prescribe dexamethasone to reduce brain swelling. A doctor could also prescribe acetazolamide to increase oxygen intake.
Those with lung fluid build-up may need an inhaler or even a respirator.
There is a risk of not making it down from the high altitude fast enough. That’s why emergency equipment such as a portable hyperbaric chamber should be available to relieve severe altitude sickness symptoms. To learn more, look at getting a hyperbaric chamber for sale.
Prevent Altitude Sickness
There are numerous means to prevent altitude sickness. Those who have breathing or heart conditions may be better off avoiding high altitudes altogether, and pregnant women shouldn’t take such a trip without consulting a doctor.
Those who live at low elevations are more likely to experience altitude sickness. But they can work their way towards prevention by slowly acclimating to higher altitudes. A good rule is to spend 24 hours or more at 4000 feet and slowly progress on your way to the full 8000.
Some of the medicine mentioned above can also be prescribed to prevent altitude sickness. Consult your healthcare provider for more information.
Traveling to High Altitudes
If you’re considering a trip to a higher altitude, this guide has made you aware of some dangers you may face. Take this information seriously, and know everything you need to prevent and treat altitude sickness.
Visit our Health & Fitness section for more pieces like this.