What is the prognosis of Altitude Sickness?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 17, 2014

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Quick Bites

  • Unavailability of sufficient oxygen causes altitude sickness.
  • The air at high altitudes becomes thinner causing unease.
  • Headache and loss of appetite are some of the symptoms.
  • If the symptoms are identified early, timely treatment can be given.

What is Altitude Sickness?

Altitude sickness occurs when there is unavailability of oxygen in the air at high altitude areas. This leads to headaches, loss of appetite, and sleeplessness. Altitude sickness is a trouble usually experienced by people who are not used to staying in high altitude areas when they go from lower altitude to 8000ft or higher.

Most people experience altitude sickness. It occurs irrespective of the age and gender and can sometimes prove to be very hazardous. Altitude sickness is also known as acute mountain sickness.

Altitude Sickness Prognosis

What Causes Altitude Sickness?

As you go higher, the air starts to get thinner. The unavailability of ample oxygen on high altitude makes the body uncomfortable so, you start breathing faster. This causes headaches and other symptoms which usually go away quickly.

What are the Symptoms of Altitude Sickness?

The symptoms of altitude sickness usually include:

  • Headache and fast breathing which worsens at night and in the morning as your wake up
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and uneasiness in the stomach
  • Unable to fall sleep at night
  • Dizziness

These symptoms can be mild and severe in intensity and can an effect on the lungs and brain. When the brain is affected you may not be able to walk straight, feel faint, and the colour of your nails may change to blue or gray.

Altitude Sickness Prognosis

What is the Treatment for Altitude Sickness?

The most effective way to treat altitude sickness is to avoid going to higher altitudes. However, if the symptoms are mild you can stay at a high altitude and let your body get used to the condition. While you stay at a higher altitude, avoid walking too much and keep drinking plenty of water. You must refrain yourself from alcohol and must not go to higher altitudes if the symptom worsen. A headache can be treated with medicines. If a person below 20 years of age has headaches, aspirin must be avoided.

Prognosis for Altitude Sickness

As long as a person believes in common sense, the prognosis for altitude sickness can be a good one. Coming back to a lower altitude, discontinuing travel to further height, resting, and identifying the symptoms on time are few of the important steps for recovery.

If the symptoms are identified within time, oxygen supplement can be given to the patient and access to immediate medical care can be made available.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

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