High Altitude Sickness 高山症 (外地攀山)

Hong Kong Hiking Web: 戶外大夫專欄 Outdoor Doctor Forum: High Altitude Sickness 高山症 (外地攀山)
   By kchan on Thursday, April 18, 2002 - 11:25 pm:  Edit

Altitude sickness can be fatal above 2500m. The symptoms are as follows.

shortness of breath
physical weakness
persistent urination
The cause is the lack of oxygen absorption. The acclimation process occurs when your body produces more hemoglobin to increase absorption. The best cure for altitude sickness is to get to lower elevation immediately. It is best to avoid drinking alcohol, blood vessel expanding drugs (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.), smoking, eating heavily or exercising strenuously. Get a prescription from your doctor for Acetazolamide C4H6N4O3S2 (Diamox). While your are there drinking Matte de Coca, Coca tea, helps.

Adapting to High Altitude

You should start taking Diamox 24 hours before arriving high grounds.

At sea level, the air pressure is around 1005mbar, at 4000m 628mbar, at 5000m the pressure would reduce to around 580mbar!

Taken from http://www.wiseware.com.hk/karlchan/bolivia/

   By Outdoor Doctor (Doctor) ( on Tuesday, June 25, 2002 - 6:25 am:  Edit

This article should be seen by serious adventurers aiming to climb the >8000m high mountains in Himalayan area. It reviews the death of previous climbers.

Mountaineering in thin air. Patterns of death and of weather at high altitude.
Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;502:225-36
Written by Huey RB, Eguskitza X, Dillon M.
Department of Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.

The abstract is as follows:

An 8000-m peak bring challenges of extremes of hypoxia (i.e. lack of oxygen) and weather as well as the normal hazards of climbing itself. These challenges have taken a severe toll: 604 mountaineers have died on those great peaks since 1950.

We present several examples from a research program that is attempting to analyze factors that potentially influence success or death rates on the 8K peaks. (1) Apparent risk of death in the notorious Khumbu Icefall on Mt. Everest has declined dramatically in recent years. This decline could reflect improved route finding and technique, but might also reflect climate warming, which has caused the Khumbu glacier to shrink and slow in recent decades. (2) Risk of death during descent from an 8000-m peak increases with the height of the peak. (3) Risk of death during descent from the summit of Everest or of K2 is elevated for climbers not using supplemental oxygen. .

   By drpanda on Tuesday, July 23, 2002 - 1:34 pm:  Edit

High Altitude Medicine Guide provides current medical information on the prevention, recognition, and treatment of altitude illness, as well as other health issues affecting travellers to high mountainous regions of the world.

   By 新仔 ( on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 11:49 pm:  Edit


   By Outdoor Doctor (Doctor) ( on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 1:53 am:  Edit

The drug has been mentioned by kchan as above. It is called acetazolamide. It may relieve some of the symptoms of high altitude sickness. Remember that the most important things are 1) let the body adapt to certain altitude before going further upward 2) if symptom does not improve (or even get worsen), go down the mountain,

   By 新仔 ( on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 9:28 pm:  Edit

謝謝, 聽說這藥物用來治青光眼, 如不想用藥物, 往3500m的山, 自己小心一點,可以嗎?

   By Outdoor Doctor (Doctor) on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 7:47 pm:  Edit

This drug is also used to treat glaucoma 青光眼.

Altitude sickness can occur when one goes above 2000m high. It should be OK if you goes up gradually. The main point is to let your body adapt to the altitude.

Before the trip, it is advisable to do more exercise and get yourself physically fit. During the high-altitude hiking trip, remember to have adequate rest and enough sleep.

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