Altitude Sickness

Also Know As Acute Mountain Sickness, Altitude Anoxia

Sign/Symptoms
Drugs
Our Records are Incomplete for Drugs
Treatments
Attributes
Our Records are Incomplete for Condition Attributes
Further Tests

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is an acute illness caused by exposure to low air pressure, usually at high altitudes.

 

Causes

As altitude increases, total atmospheric pressure decreases. Thus, while the concentration of oxygen as a percentage of air remains constant, the overall level of oxygen will too decrease.

The risk of altitude sickness is increased by ascending to high altitudes too rapidly, and undertaking excessive physical exertion in doing so – for example, mountain climbing.

 

Disease pathway

The brain and the lungs are most commonly affected by altitude sickness. A shortage of oxygen in the blood supply to the brain is the primary cause of symptoms.

Meanwhile, air pressure in the smallest capillaries of the lungs becomes elevated relative to atmospheric pressure. This may result in the leakage of fluid into the airways.

 

Symptoms and diagnosis

Symptoms of altitude sickness are sometimes likened by patients to those of a hangover. They include:

·         Headache;

·         Fatigue and weakness;

·         Lightheadedness;

·         Loss of appetite;

·         Insomnia;

·         Nausea and vomiting; and

·         Irritability.

Doctors will usually diagnose altitude illness based on the presentation of symptoms. A measurement of the blood oxygen level can confirm the diagnosis.

 

Treatment

The only real cure for acute altitude sickness is for the patient to descend to an altitude with higher atmospheric oxygen content.

If symptoms are very severe, supplementary oxygen may be provided through a face mask.

 

 

Efficacy of Alternative and Other Treatments According to GRADE* Ranking:

Gingko [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:

Please note, this management does NOT treat the condition itself. It may mildly help with some of the symptoms, and even then has insufficient evidence to back up this claim at present.

Recommendation: No Recommendation (There is insufficient evidence to support claims that Ginkgo helps to treat altitude sickness)

Grade of Evidence: Low Quality of Evidence

Coca Tea [6]:

Please note, this management does NOT treat the condition itself. It may mildly help with some of the symptoms, and even then has insufficient evidence to back up this claim at present.

Recommendation: Weakly in Favor (Early studies show that coca tea may be able to help altitude sickness. More studies are needed)

Grade of Evidence: Low Quality of Evidence

* www.gradeworkinggroup.org

 

 

Summary References

Treatments:

1. Ades T, Alteri R, Gansler T, Yeargin P, "Complete Guide to Complimentary & Alternative Cancer Therapies", American Cancer Society, Atlanta USA, 2009

2. http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/ginkgo

3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/patient-ginkgo.html

4. http://nccam.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2010_may/ginkgostudy.htm

5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2004055

6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3001837/

 


Public Discussion

No discussions exist for this condition yet. You can be the first to create one!
GT:0.158