Altitude Illnesses – Facts

Obtaining the right facts about altitude illnesses from different sources such as:
websites, medical opinions and research can be a mine field.
We have gathered some useful information that may help you understand.

There are three main ways that Altitude Illnesses can affect you.

You may develop one or more or a combination of the following problems, when travelling to mountainous areas 2500m (8000ft) and above:

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
  • High-Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE)
  • High-Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE)

Acute Mountain Sickness.

Acute Mountain Sickness often called ‘Altitude Sickness’ is as a result of your body not adapting (acclimatising) to the high altitude. There is less oxygen in the air you breathe and less gets into your bloodstream. So, at high altitude every breath you take will contain fewer oxygen molecules. This means that you have to breathe faster and deeper to get oxygen into your body. Some people are only slightly affected, you may feel similar to having ‘a hangover or cold’, whereas others unable to shake it off, feel awful. It is extremely important when you have any of the above symptoms that you seek immediate medical attention .

High- Altitude Pulmonary Oedema.

High-Altitude Pulmonary Oedema is the result of the high altitude causing an increase in pressure in the blood vessels around the lungs, which leads them to ‘leak’, allowing fluid to escape from the blood vessels into the lungs. HAPE is the more serious form of AMS and
needs urgent and immediate medical attention.

High-Altitude Cerebral Oedema.

High-Altitude Cerebral Oedema is the result of the high altitude causing an increase in pressure in the blood vessels, and allows the blood vessels to ‘leak’, but instead of fluid collecting in the lungs, as it does with HAPE, the fluid collects in the brain. HACE is the severe form of AMS and needs urgent and immediate medical attention.

 

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