Altitude sickness also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), altitude illness, hypobaropathy, is the inability of the organism to adapt in high altitudes, called “hypoxia” (lack of oxygen). It can take effect as low as 2,000 meters above sea level (6,500 feet) and its severity is proportional to the speed of ascent and the altitude reached.
Altitude sickness is able to affect anyone and is more frequent in those under 50.
In the majority of cases, symptoms are mild or moderate, with one or more of the following:
Above all, the most important thing is to remain calm. The psychological factor is substantial for the quick disappearance, or conversely the worsening of symptoms. Many travelers become scared when experiencing the first symptoms or become anxious in anticipation after having read or heard about unpleasant experiences of other tourists. Everyone has different reactions to altitude sickness and no one is able to anticipate what you will feel in high altitudes.
Few people are affected at altitudes lower than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above sea level.
Symptoms can quickly appear in less than an hour, the minute you arrive, or it can take several hours. In some cases, it can take 2 or 3 days to feel the first effects.
The best option is to gradually increase one’s altitude in order to adapt in at least a day (2,500 / 3,000 meters above sea level (8,000 to 10,000 feet).
In any event, it is very important to:
In serious cases (approximately one in every 5,000 people), a malignant development of altitude sickness can lead to two potentially dangerous sicknesses: pulmonary edema and cerebral edema. An early diagnosis (in the first several hours) is very important, they are easy to treat in the initial stages if hospitalized.
High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a dangerous accumulation of liquid in the lungs, preventing the aerial cavities from opening and filling with air. The symptoms in which you should see a doctor as soon as possible are:
High altitude cerebral edema (HACE) is an excess accumulation of fluid in the brain. The symptoms are: