High attitude is defined in the following three major categories:
- High Altitude: 5,000 – 11,000 ft
- Very High Altitude: 11,500 – 18,000 ft
- Extreme Altitude: 18,000ft + (Kilimanjaro summit has 19,340 ft)
These high altitude sicknesses can be grouped as follows:Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): This is very common at high altitudes ranging from 10,000ft. It’s approximated that at least 75% people will suffer mild symptoms of AMS. There are four factors related to AMS:
- High Altitude
- Fast Rate of Ascent
- High Degree of Exertion
Mild Acute Mountain Sickness:This has the following symptoms:
- Nausea & Dizziness
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Disturbed sleep
- General feeling of malaise
Severe Acute Mountain Sickness:The symptoms are an increase in the severity of:
- Shortness of breath at rest
- Inability to walk
- Decreasing mental status
- Fluid build-up in the lungs
Severe Acute Mountain Sickness are:High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO):
This results from a lack of oxygen resulting in a build up of fluid in the lungs. The fluid prevents effective oxygen exchange and as the condition worsens the level of oxygen in the bloodstream decreases, which leads to cyanosis, impaired cerebral function, and ultimately death. Anyone suffering from symptoms must be evacuated to a medical facility for treatment.
- 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
High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACO):It results from a lack of oxygen resulting in a build up of fluid in brain causing swelling of brain tissue. HACO usually occurs after a week or more at high altitude. Severe cases can lead to death if not treated quickly. Anyone suffering from symptoms must be evacuated to a medical facility for treatment.
- Loss of co-ordination
- Decreasing levels of consciousness
- Loss of memory
- Hallucinations & Psychotic behavior
General Prevention Measures and Treatment:Diamox: An approved drug that prevents and treats AMS. The drug acidifies blood increasing respiration hence accelerated acclimatization.
ALTI-VIT: A unique vitamin formula which has been developed to support your body’s requirements at Altitude.
Ibuprofen/Nurofen: Effective at relieving altitude induced headaches.