UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Misc

Title: High Altitude Illnesses

Keywords: high altitude illness (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/1/2008 by Michael Bond, MD (Updated: 6/25/2022)
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High altitude illnesses is typically called Acute mountain sickness (AMS) and is associated with two major complications high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).

Symptoms associated with AMS are headache, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, anorexia and insomia. Cough, Cyanosis, hypoxia, and dyspnea are associated with HAPE.  HACE is associated with progressive neurologic symptoms and can lead to ataxia and coma.

Factors that increase your risk for altitude illnesses are:

  • Rate of ascent
  • Elevation obtained
  • Exertion on arrival to elevation
  • Duration at that altitude
  • Recent URI
  • Previous symptoms of AMS