Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) can affect a person as low as 8,000 feet (2,438 m.) and is caused by hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels). Symptoms begin within a day of the initial ascent. In mild cases symptoms may only last a day or two. First symptoms are usually headache, nausea and shortness of breath.

However, other symptoms do occur and include inability to sleep, cough, puffiness of face and around eyes, tightness in chest, loss of appetite, vomiting, heavy or tired feeling legs, weakness, and less urine output.

If these symptoms progress more than a day or two, the best treatment is a descent of a few thousand feet in altitude. Usually ascending slowly and allowing the body to acclimatize will often prevent the onset of serious mountain sickness. However, at real high altitudes some degree of AMS is essentially inevitable.
Return to the Mountain Safety page from Acute Mountain Sickness


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