Understanding Altitude Sickness And Treatments

Altitude sickness means unpleasant symptoms for those suffering from it. For some, altitude sickness requires medical attention.

To successfully treat altitude sickness, you much first understand its causes, so you can use the appropriate treatment and know when to get medical attention.

Altitude Sickness Causes

Traveling is a fun activity, and sometimes necessary for work. The decreased amount of oxygen available at higher altitudes causes symptoms to develop, especially in people not used to higher elevations. There are mild and more serious symptoms.

The mild symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Loss of energy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Loss of appetite

In mild cases, altitude sickness begins within 24 after arriving at a high-altitude location. However, they should lessen in a couple of days as the body adjusts to the surroundings.

If symptoms don't improve or worsen after 24 hours, you need medical attention. You should also decrease your elevation until symptoms improve.

More serious symptoms of altitude sickness include the following.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Inability to walk
  • Confusion
  • Cough producing a frothy substance
  • Coma

These symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Altitude Sickness Oxygen Therapy

One treatment is altitude sickness oxygen. Using supplemental oxygen is a quick and effective way to relieve altitude symptoms without adverse effects. Supplemental oxygen comes in portable tanks and oxygen concentrators.

Supplemental oxygen therapy contains a limited amount of oxygen and can't be used for long periods of time. There are other aspects of oxygen tanks to consider.

  • The expense to refill tanks
  • Extremely Flammable
  • Difficult to move around
  • Don't provide humidified air

Oxygen concentrators use air in the room and concentrate the oxygen to medical levels. Concentrators offer an unlimited supply of oxygen and the user can leave them on all day and night.

Other Altitude Symptom Treatments

In mild cases, you can treat altitude sickness yourself. You can take a few steps to help lessen the effects of a change in altitude.

  • Don't go higher until you feel better
  • Rest where you are for a day or two
  • Take OTC medications for headaches
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don't smoke, exercise, or drink alcohol

Stopping at lower elevations helps your body adjust slowly, so you don't feel the adverse effects stemming from a lack of oxygen.

Anyone can get altitude sickness, but some people seem more susceptible than others. If you're unsure if you're at risk, take precautions when mountain climbing or traveling to locations of higher elevations. These symptoms often appear at altitudes higher than 8,0000 feet.