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What you should know about altitude sickness

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, September 3, 2017  /  04:58 am
What you should know about altitude sickness

A general rule of thumb is that if you go above 10,000 feet (3000 meters) above ground you will increase your chances of getting altitude sickness by 10-15 percent. (Shutterstock/File)

Altitude sickness may seem like a small discomfort that passengers experience when they ride on planes.

However, with the recent death of a hiker named Susanna DeForest, who died climbing the Rocky Mountains due to altitude sickness, here are somethings to keep in mind about having this condition as compiled by MSN.

Too high, too fast

The main cause of altitude sickness is your body reacting adversely to a large change in altitude. According to Jan Stepanek, MD, who sees patients at the Mayo Clinic’s High Altitude and Harsh Environments Medical Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, when a person goes through altitude sickness it is important to note the symptoms. These include headache and nausea and usually continues until the body adapts to the change in atmosphere.

However, if a person keeps going up to higher elevations it can lead to vomiting, disorientation, fluid in the lungs and swelling around the brain.

Read also: Kylie Jenner suffers altitude sickness on Peru trip

Visitors and young people have higher risk 

The people who have altitude sickness are those who live in lowlands and fly up to a higher altitude. If people from the low lands attempt to go skiing in a high elevation environment then they will experience discomfort for a few days, and their body will adapt. However, they will continue to feel discomfort if they go any higher.

The reason why young people are more at risk is that they may continue to push on despite symptoms still being prominent in their body.

Altitude is different for everyone 

All our bodies are different. Some people might be more adversely affected to altitude sickness since their bodies are unable to adapt fast enough. Two people going up the same amount of altitude might have adversely different reactions. 

A general rule of thumb is that if you go above 10,000 feet (3000 meters) above ground you will increase your chances of getting altitude sickness by 10-15 percent.

Read also: 85-year-old Everest record seeker died of altitude sickness

Reduce symptoms by heading to lower ground

If you are in higher ground and experiencing altitude sickness, then do not go higher. Another sickness to find out if you're going too high too fast is loss of balance. This can be an early symptom of brain swelling and mild altitude sickness.

To reduce these symptoms, the easiest way is to go down to lower ground. Even a small change of 1500 feet can give a drastic change to reducing altitude sickness. 

Planning a trip? Check with your doctor and adapt

Anyone planning a trip going over 10,000 feet should consider taking their time and adapting to the hike’s starting elevation before heading higher. It is also recommended to take their time to acclimate to every large rise in altitude every (500-1000 meters). Drinking plenty of water can help to feel better during a hike but does not reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.

It is also recommended for people planning this trip to visit a doctor. If a person has been on sea level for the past 90 days it is important to talk to a physician who is familiar with altitude problems. (ken/kes)