|Wednesday, February 23
Every year, millions of people leave their homes and travel to mountainous regions of the planet in search of adventure. As a result, thousands will suffer from high-altitude sickness.
When planning a trip to the mountains, especially for those who live near sea level, the following information is designed to create an awareness of and prevent dangers that can result from high-altitude travel.
What is this ailment?
Most people do not experience high-altitude sickness at less than 7,000-8,000 feet. However, at altitudes above 8,000 feet, many begin to feel ill because of the lack of oxygen available to breathe. If one stays at a high-altitude for a longer period of time, the body will adjust to lower oxygen levels and high-altitude sickness will not be experienced.
High-altitude sickness primarily affects the lungs and brain. This ailment can be life-threatening, so it very important to learn and recognize the symptoms of high-altitude sickness.
Early symptoms of high-altitude sickness include:
How is it treated?
If symptoms are mild, you may be able to remain at the same altitude and rest until the body has a chance to adjust, or acclimatize, to the level of oxygen that exists at higher altitudes.
It is very important not to travel to a higher altitude until symptoms have completely disappeared.
A prescription medicine is available to treat high-altitude sickness. A doctor can prescribe Acetazolamide (diamox). This medicine should be taken when experiencing the first symptoms of high-altitude sickness. Some mountain visitors take acetazolamide preventatively, if sleeping above 9,000 feet, particularly if originating at or near sea level. Please note that acetazolamide interferes with the taste of carbonated beverages, including beer.
How can it be prevented?
When taking these precautions, high-altitude travel will be a much safer and more enjoyable adventure.