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Mountain Sickness

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is mountain sickness?

Mountain sickness, or high altitude sickness, is a condition that can happen when you travel to high altitudes. It is caused by the decrease in oxygen at higher altitudes. When there is less oxygen in the air, your body cannot get enough to function properly. Mountain sickness usually occurs within 24 hours after you travel to a higher altitude.

What increases my risk for mountain sickness?

What are the symptoms of mountain sickness?

How is mountain sickness diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and check your breathing and heart rates. You may need any of the following:

How is mountain sickness treated?

What are the risks of mountain sickness?

You may get a lung infection and have increased trouble breathing. You may have trouble walking because of weakened muscles. You may have memory loss or pass out. You may have a seizure or go into a coma. Fluid may build up in your lungs and around your brain. Your blood may become thick from the lack of oxygen. This can cause the heart to work harder and may lead to heart failure. These problems can be life-threatening.

How can I manage my symptoms?

How can I prevent mountain sickness?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.