Altitude sickness, also known as mountain sickness, occurs when you ascend to high altitudes too quickly and the lack of oxygen causes you to feel sick, dizzy and short of breath. If you are planning on travelling to high altitudes then be sure to combat this sickness with our effective medications.
What is altitude sickness?
Also known as mountain sickness, altitude sickness is a condition that strikes sufferers when they travel to high altitudes. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite, as well as dizziness, headache, shortness of breath and loss of energy. The symptoms usually begin within 24 hours of reaching a higher altitude, and then lift once the body has adjusted.
There are different kinds of altitude sickness, graded on a scale. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the mildest form and sufferers (of which there are many) have likened the symptoms to a hangover. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is more severe and can even be life-threatening, because it involves a buildup of fluid on the lungs. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is the most severe and is incredibly dangerous; this is when there is fluid in the brain and it requires immediate medical attention.
Most people will only really experience the mildest form with the symptoms already listed. If you are suffering with one of the severe types then you will probably be confused, feel a tightness in the chest and be unable to walk, so it’s easy to differentiate between the different levels.
What causes altitude sickness?
As the name suggests, this condition is caused by high altitudes. Usually this is brought on by travelling skywards too quickly, as the air pressure is lower and there is less oxygen available the higher you get. Because your body is used to the normal air pressure, the sudden lack is too much to adjust to and you experience symptoms like sickness, lightheadedness and shortness of breath. The key part of the cause is the ascension though; if you already live at a moderately high altitude then your body will be used to it, so going very slightly higher is not likely to affect you.
Altitude sickness can affect anyone, regardless of gender or fitness level. The factors that do have an effect are how high you go, how quickly you do it and what altitude you sleep at. It can also depend on age, as young people are more likely to get it. If you have an underlying medical condition then this could influence how likely you are to develop altitude sickness, but it doesn’t automatically make you more likely.
How can I treat altitude sickness?
If you are planning to travel to a high altitude then you will find treatments to remedy altitude sickness from UK Meds. Acetazolamide is not only an effective relief for symptoms, but it can also prevent the sickness in the first place as your body adjusts to the different pressure and altitude.
The fastest way to relieve altitude sickness of course, is to return to a lower elevation so that your body gets the oxygen it needs (and is used to). However, on organised trips, this is not always possible so just be careful to keep an eye out for early symptoms and take medication as required.
To avoid altitude sickness altogether, climb to higher elevations slowly to give your body time to adjust gradually. Allowing yourself to get used to the reduced oxygen bit by bit will help to steer clear of any sudden onsets of symptoms.
If you do start experiencing severe symptoms that won’t subside then you should contact an emergency service and return to a lower elevation as soon as is safely possible.
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