What is Altitude sickness and the causes of altitude sickness? Altitude sickness is a common condition that can occur when you climb too quickly to heights that you are not used to. As you climb the atmospheric pressure drops and the level of oxygen in the air falls, making effective breathing more difficult. In most cases, symptoms are mild and the most common symptom is a headache. Other mild symptoms include nausea, dizziness, exhaustion and difficulty sleeping.
In some cases, altitude sickness can become very serious and lead to death. Serious symptoms include confusion and loss of consciousness, fitting, bubbling sounds in the chest and coughing up pink frothy liquid. These symptoms require immediate removal to low altitude and emergency medical attention.
Causes of altitude sickness: If you experience mild symptoms you should not climb higher for 24-48 hours until you have acclimatised. If your symptoms worsen or do not improve, then it is advisable to descend by at least 500m. Serious symptoms require immediate removal to low altitude and emergency medical attention.Studies have shown that acetazolamide (also known as Diamox) can help reduce the severity of altitude sickness symptoms and can also help prevent the condition. It is only available on prescription from a doctor but is not licenced for altitude sickness. It is important to recognise that use of acetazolamide is NOT A SUBSTITUTE for correct acclimatisation and it will not protect you from severe altitude sickness unless you allow suitable acclimatisation.Acetazolamide is normally taken twice a day for two days before you start to climb and whilst you are climbing. There are also medicines such as Avomine and Buccastem that can help with nausea that can be a symptom of altitude sickness. These can be purchased without a prescription – just follow the links provided above – or the online doctor can also prescribe Prochlorperazine buccal tablets if you undertake an online consultation for altitude sickness.