Traveldoctor - International Travel Health

Home Contact us Sitemap Printfriendly page
Mountain sickness
Maountain sickness is seen with a too rapid ascent even at moderate hights above 2000 meters (6000 feet).

Mountain sickness is seen from between 2000 and 2500 meters and above. 
The symptoms of mild mountain sickness are headache, tiredness, sleeplessness and general malaise.
Severe mountain sickness is characterised by pulmonal oedema, vomiting, reduced consciousness and poor coordination of movements.

Prevention of mountain sickness
  • Prevention is by acclimatisation.
  • Most important, do not increase the altitude where you sleep by more than 300 meters per 24 hours.
  • drink abundantly;
  • avoid excessive physical activity the first days;
  • avoid excessive cooling of the body.

    With rapid ascent like direct flights to La Paz or Quito (mountain 3700 m and 2850 meters respectively) or other places at more than 3000 meters, mountain sickness can be prevented by taking Diamox 250 mg x twice daily from the day of arrival and the next two days (may be prolonged).
    Diamox is slightly diuretic and has a number of side effects and is therefore not a substitute for acclimatisation.

    First aid
  • Descent as soon as possible;
  • Remain at lower mountains until the symptoms have disappeared;
  • Diamox 250 mg daily for 2 to 3 days may alleviate symptoms, but is not sufficient in severe disease.
  • Severe mountain sickness is life threatening and an acute medical crisis, which require urgent medical treatment and attention and transport to lower mountain.

    Edited 26 December 2008