High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses


Recently talking to a friend who is also a scientist, he was telling me a very interesting thing about AMS. Somebody had done a research on Rat and find out that olfactory lobe plays a great role in AMS. Once I go through the paper may be I will post in details.


when i was in rohtang.. water from my nose was pouring like anything and i was having head ache is it because of high altitude...?


Sorry I was too busy with some other work. The paper is with me, once I finish it, I will post. Main thing in combating AMS is "REHYDRATION" most important. Please remember that "DIAMOX" works best if you take as "PREVENTIVE" not as effective as curative. In this thread somebody was talking about steroid (dexamethason or prednisolon). My modest suggestion would be don’t take any steroid without doctor's advice please. Steroid only used in extreme cases, toooooooooooo many side effects, tapering dose etc etc.
Enjoy Traveling and create a new HEIGHTS (without AMS) in LA's.


Super User
The Causes of Altitude Sickness

The percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere at sea level is about 21% and the barometric pressure is around 760 mm Hg. As altitude increases, the percentage remains the same but the number of oxygen molecules per breath is reduced. At 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) the barometric pressure is only about 480 mm Hg, so there are roughly 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath so the body must adjust to having less oxygen.

In addition, high altitude and lower air pressure causes fluid to leak from the capillaries in both the lungs and the brain which can lead to fluid build-up. Continuing on to higher altitude without proper acclimatization can lead to the potentially serious, even life-threatening altitude sickness.

The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a specific altitude. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes one to three days at any given altitude, e.g. if you climb to 3,000 meters and spend several days at that altitude, your body will acclimatize to 3,000 meters. If you then climb to 5,000 meters your body has to acclimatize once again.
Several changes take place in the body which enable it to cope with decreased oxygen
The depth of respiration increases.
The body produces more red blood cells to carry oxygen.
Pressure in pulmonary capillaries is increased, "forcing" blood into parts of the lung which are not normally used when breathing at sea level.
The body produces more of a particular enzyme that causes the release of oxygen from hemoglobin to the body tissues.
Cheyne-Stokes Respirations
Above 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) most people experience a periodic breathing during sleep known as Cheyne-Stokes Respirations. The pattern begins with a few shallow breaths and increases to deep sighing respirations then falls off rapidly even ceasing entirely for a few seconds and then the shallow breaths begin again. During the period when breathing stops the person often becomes restless and may wake with a sudden feeling of suffocation. This can disturb sleeping patterns, exhausting the climber. This type of breathing is not considered abnormal at high altitudes. Acetazolamide is helpful in relieving this periodic breathing.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
AMS is very common at high altitude. At over 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) 75% of people will have mild symptoms. The occurrence of AMS is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. The symptoms usually start 12 to 24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity around the third day.

The symptoms of Mild AMS include:
Nausea & Dizziness
Loss of appetite
Shortness of breath
Disturbed sleep
General feeling of malaise
Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within two to four days as the body acclimatises. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip.
Moderate AMS

The signs and symptoms of Moderate AMS include
Severe headache that is not relieved by medication
Nausea and vomiting, increasing weakness and fatigue
Shortness of breath
Decreased coordination (ataxia).
Normal activity is difficult, although the person may still be able to walk on their own. At this stage, only advanced medications or descent can reverse the problem. Descending only 300 meters (1,000 feet) will result in some improvement, and twenty four hours at the lower altitude will result in a significant improvement. The person should remain at lower altitude until all the symptoms have subsided (up to 3 days). At this point, the person has become acclimatized to that altitude and can begin ascending again.
The best test for moderate AMS is to have the person walk a straight line heel to toe just like a sobriety test. A person with ataxia would be unable to walk a straight line. This is a clear indication that an immediate descent is required. It is important to get the person to descend before the ataxia reaches the point where they cannot walk on their own (which would necessitate a stretcher evacuation).
Severe AMS
Severe AMS results in an increase in the severity of the aforementioned symptoms including: Ÿ Shortness of breath at rest, Ÿ Inability to walk, Ÿ Decreasing mental status, Ÿ Fluid build-up in the lungs, Severe AMS requires an immediate descent of around 600 meters (2,000 feet) to a lower altitude.
There are two serious conditions associated with severe altitude sickness; High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO) and High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO). Both of these happen less frequently, especially to those who are properly acclimatized. But, when they do occur, it is usually in people going too high too fast or going very high and staying there. In both cases the lack of oxygen results in leakage of fluid through the capillary walls into either the lungs or the brain.

High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO)
HAPO results from fluid build up in the lungs. This fluid prevents effective oxygen exchange. As the condition becomes more severe, the level of oxygen in the bloodstream decreases, which leads to cyanosis, impaired cerebral function, and death.
Symptoms of HAPO include
Shortness of breath at rest
Tightness in the chest, and a persistent cough bringing up white, watery, or frothy fluid
Marked fatigue and weakness
A feeling of impending suffocation at night
Confusion, and irrational behavior
Confusion, and irrational behavior are signs that insufficient oxygen is reaching the brain. One of the methods for testing yourself for HAPO is to check your recovery time after exertion.

In cases of HAPO, immediate descent of around 600 meters (2,000 feet) is a necessary life-saving measure. Anyone suffering from HAPO must also be evacuated to a medical facility for proper follow-up treatment.
Have you, or someone you know, ever suffered from HAPO or HAPE (high altitude pulmonary oedema/edema)? Then join the "International HAPE Database" a registry of previous HAPE sufferers worldwide who might consider participating in future research studies.
From Internet....

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Medical way to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness
Medicines are necessary and important to people when we reach higher places. There are some medicines for prevention, and some for treatment.
Anyhow, there are some medicines that have been already confirmed to be helpful to prevent Acute Mountain Sickness such as Diamox, acetazolamide, dexamethasone, and nifedipine. But we have to ask the doctors what kind of medicines we could have. Please do not buy it by yourselves, for example, people who are allergic to sulfa drugs should not take Diamox.
They should try other Medicines.
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Last year, during the Leh ride we had used Diamox and all of us were fine except some headache.
This month, during the spiti ride, me and rider mate did not take any diamox - met an army officer who was participating in the Raid De, tending to his broken down Gypsy near GRamphoo.
Per him, taking Diamox makes one lose clarity on distant vision and just forces more pee breaks. He suggested to take couple of disprins at the end of the day and lot of water,
along with suitable time while ascending. We used some chocolates as well.
It made a lot of sense and we just did that - worked great!