Read below for travel health advice on diseases and special needs from the MDtravelhealth channel.
Altitude sickness may develop in travelers who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500 m, including those in previously excellent health. Being physically fit in no way lessens the risk of altitude sickness. Those who have developed altitude sickness in the past are prone to future episodes. The risk increases with faster ascents and higher altitudes. Symptoms of acute mountain sickness, the most common form of the disorder, may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Severe cases may be complicated by breathlessness and chest tightness, which are signs of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), or by confusion, lethargy, and unsteady gait, which indicate cerebral edema (brain swelling).
Altitude sickness may be prevented by taking acetazolamide 125 or 250 mg twice daily starting 24 hours before ascent and continuing for 48 hours after arrival at altitude. Possible side-effects include increased urinary volume, numbness, tingling, nausea, drowsiness, myopia and temporary impotence. Acetazolamide should not be given to pregnant women or anyone with a history of sulfa allergy.
For those who cannot tolerate acetazolamide, an alternative is dexamethasone, which has been shown to prevent acute mountain sickness and high-altitude cerebral edema (but not pulmonary edema). The usual dosage is 4 mg four times daily. Unlike acetazolamide, dexamethasone must be tapered gradually upon arrival at altitude, since there is a risk that altitude sickness will occur as the dosage is reduced. Dexamethasone is a steroid, so it should not be given to diabetics or anyone for whom steroids are contraindicated. For those at risk for high-altitude pulmonary edema, one option is to take oral nifedipine 10 or 20 mg every 8 hours. A newer treatment is prophylactic inhalation of 125 mcg of salmeterol (Serevent)every 12 hours, which was recently shown to reduce the risk of high-altitude pulmonary edema in those with a prior history of this disorder. (See C. Sartori et al, New England Journal of Medicine; 2002;346:1631-6).
Limited evidence indicates that an herbal remedy, gingko biloba, may prevent altitude sickness when started before ascent. The usual dosage is 100 mg every 12 hours.
Other measures to prevent altitude sickness include
The symptoms of altitude sickness develop gradually so that, with proper management, serious complications can usually be prevented. If any symptoms of altitude sickness appear, it is essential not to ascend to a higher altitude. If the symptoms become worse or if the person shows any signs of cerebral or pulmonary edema, such as breathlessness, confusion, lethargy, or unsteady gait, it is essential to descend to a lower altitude. A descent of 500-1000 meters is generally adequate except in cases of cerebral edema, which may require a greater descent. Travelers should not resume their ascent until all symptoms of altitude sickness have cleared. Supplemental oxygen is helpful if available. Acetazolamide, dexamethasone, and nifedipine may all be used to treat altitude sickness as well as prevent it. In most cases, acetazolamide is recommended as prevention, and dexamethasone and nifedipine are reserved for emergency treatment. Nifedipine is preferable to dexamethasone for high-altitude pulmonary edema.
Travel to high altitudes is generally not recommended for those with a history of heart disease, lung disease, or sickle cell disease. It is also not recommended for pregnant women.
From "International Travel and Health" (WHO)
From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
From the National Travel Health Network and Centre (U.K.)
Do you have any comments on this resource page? We want to tell the Red Planetter community about this condition or advice.
You don't need an account or have to sign up or anything!
Is there anything missing that you know about? Or can you offer any insightful tips from your experience?
If you are not logged in, or choose to make the drop box anonymously you can tell the community honestly what you seen without any concern. Please send images or other evidence to support your claims.
The MDtravelhealth channel is a source of travel health information for travellers, written by medical professionals.
The MDtravelhealth channel relies on medical professionals from all over the world to maintain the Travel Health Information on these pages.
Topic Tags are what bind the Red Planet Travel site together, and are very important.
This place has been tagged:
Before you apply read about the Medical Professionals Roles on Red Planet TravelYou need to be logged in and have applied to MDth channel to contribute to this page.
We are looking to grow the information on this site, if you have something to contribute to any page then we'd like to hear from you.
What's more you can now earn money (paid direct via Paypal) for writing descriptions about places you know.
You will need to tell other members about yourself and your relevant knowledge and experience about what you want to contribute about.
Look below for some example page types, and types of people whose views on a place might be useful to know.
Page Type: Hotel
Tell us your job, knowledge, experience..
My Experience: Doctor
If you are the owner/manager of any place, then you can, of course, take control of your page and add relevant information other visitors might want to know