High-Altitude SicknessThursday, October 31, 2013
Every year, people head for the mountains for skiing, snowboarding, backpacking and other activities. If youre headed to a mountainous region this summer, you may want to take steps to avoid high altitude sickness. Dr. Edward Hill explains more about the condition in todays 60 Second Housecall.
The low amount of oxygen in the air at high altitudes causes high-altitude illness. This may cause you to feel ill. If you stay at a high altitude for a long time, your body gets used to the low oxygen level.
There are three main types of high-altitude illness: acute mountain sickness, high-altitude pulmonary edema, which affects the lungs, and high-altitude cerebral edema, which affects the brain. These illnesses can be serious, but they can also be prevented.
Some of the first signs of high-altitude illness are headache, lightheadedness, weakness, trouble sleeping and an upset stomach. More severe symptoms include difficulty breathing while youre resting, coughing, confusion and inability to walk in a straight line. If you get these symptoms, go to a lower altitude right away and get help from a doctor.
Dont ignore signs of high-altitude illnesss. People can die of high-altitude illness if they dont recognize the signs or if they dont believe their illness is caused by the high altitude.
For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.