How is altitude sickness diagnosed?
If you are at
a high altitude, your doctor may think you have this condition. Your doctor
will ask you questions about your symptoms and examine you. To rule out other
conditions, your doctor may ask if you have been drinking fluids or alcohol or
using any medicines, or if you have a cold or the flu.
If you are
hiking or camping, you and those with you need to know the symptoms of altitude
sickness. People often mistake altitude sickness for the flu, a hangover, or dehydration. As a rule, consider your symptoms to
be altitude sickness unless you can prove they are not.
How is it treated?
The best treatment for
altitude sickness is to go to a lower altitude. But if you have mild symptoms,
you may be able to stay at that altitude and let your body get used to it.
Symptoms often occur if you have just arrived at a mountain resort from a lower
You may also be able to use oxygen or a specially
designed pressure chamber to treat altitude sickness.
If you stay
at a high altitude, rest. You can explore the area, but take it easy. Limit any
walking or activity. Drink plenty of water, but do not drink alcohol. Do not go
to a higher altitude until your symptoms go away. This may take from 12 hours
to 3 or 4 days.
For the headache,
you can take an over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Do not give aspirin to anyone
younger than 20. Aspirin has been linked to
Reye syndrome, a serious illness. You may also use
medicine to reduce feeling sick to your stomach or other symptoms.
can give you acetazolamide (Diamox). This speeds up how fast your body gets
used to the higher altitude. Nifedipine (Procardia) and dexamethasone are
also used for altitude sickness. You may also be able to use oxygen or a
specially designed pressure chamber to treat altitude sickness.
Go to a lower altitude if your symptoms are moderate to severe, they get
worse, or medicine or oxygen treatment does not help. Go down at least
1500 ft (457 m). Go to a lower
altitude as fast as you can or get emergency help if someone with you has
severe symptoms such as being confused or not being able to walk straight. Go
with the person. Never let someone with severe altitude sickness go down