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High Altitude Sickness Symptoms

👤by MedicineNet.com 0 comments 🕔Thursday, November 10th, 2016

People living at lower altitudes who enjoy a winter ski vacation may be at risk for acute altitude sickness (acute mountain sickness), the most common of the so-called altitude diseases. Doctors do not know exactly why altitude sicknesses occur, but it is believed that they result from changes in the body's responses to lowered levels of oxygen and air pressure changes.

Acute (sudden) altitude sicknesses can occur as low as 8,000 feet (2500 meters), but the risk for altitude sickness increases with increasing altitude. Acute altitude sickness occurs in up to 50% of those living in the lowlands who ascend to a level of 14,000 feet (4200 m). Onset of the condition can begin any time from eight to 96 hours after arrival at altitudes over 8,000 feet. Individuals vary in their susceptibility to acute altitude sickness and may develop symptoms at different levels of altitude.

Headache is the most common symptom of acute altitude sickness, but affected persons may also experience:

nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/10/2016

Medical Author:

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medical Editor:

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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