Rise Above Altitude Sickness

July 14, 2017

Rise Above Altitude Sickness

By Perry Shumway
July 14, 2017

Rise Above Altitude Sickness

By Perry Shumway
man standing at the top of mountain

Avoid Altitude Sickness this Summer through Education and Prevention

Summer is the time for going outdoors, sun-sational mountain memories, and starry night skies. With the upcoming eclipse at the end of August, many travelers from all over the world will be visiting Idaho with an opportunity to experience the high elevation. Whether you are traveling far or enjoying your summer from home, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and what can be done in prevention.

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness or mountain sickness is caused due to the body struggling to adjust to receiving less oxygen pressure from a high elevation. Altitude sickness has over 200,000 cases in the United States each year.

What are common symptoms of altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness does not typically become noticeable in people until multiple hours at a higher elevation. Often times altitude sickness is compared to having a hangover. It can present itself through a number of symptoms including:

  • dizziness
  • fast than normal heart rate
  • fatigue/low energy
  • headaches
  • inability to exercise
  • insufficient urine production
  • loss of appetite
  • not sleeping well
  • shortness of breath
  • sleepiness
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting

Who is most likely to acquire altitude sickness?

Experts do not know who is most likely to obtain altitude sickness, therefore, it is important to be aware of its possibility when traveling, hiking, or camping in locations with higher elevation that you are used to. Even those who are physically fit and healthy can obtain this sickness. This is especially true because individuals who are physically fit are more likely to ascend to higher elevations very quickly and should take caution. Idaho is ranked as the number 6 state in highest mean elevation with Rexburg being at 4865’.

Educating yourself about Altitude Sickness is important so you can identify early symptoms and be willing to acknowledge when they are present. When you know you will be at an elevation which is higher than your body is used to make sure you take care of yourself especially through the following:

  • Proper hydration – drinking water helps with the prevention of altitude sickness
  • Climb slowly – trying to climb a mountain quickly without preparation or training can be dangerous

Recovery of altitude sickness

It is important to take special care when you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness.

  • take it easy
  • slow down
  • do not continue
  • rest
  • drink plenty of water
  • do not proceed higher
  • do not drink alcohol
  • limit activity such as hiking and talking
  • know it can take anywhere between 12 hours to 3 – 4 days

At Madison Memorial Hospital we care about your physical safety. Through careful precautions, you and your family can enjoy fun summer activities while being happy and healthy. Happy trails wherever you may be this summer, and be safe.