Mountain Sickness (cont.)
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Altitude Sickness Prognosis
The prognosis for acute altitude sickness is excellent as long as common sense is used. Descending, delaying further ascent, rest, and paying attention to the body's symptoms are usually all that is necessary to ensure a complete recovery.
High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) has a good outcome if symptoms are recognized and treated early. If descent is impossible or if hyperbaric therapy, supplemental oxygen, and access to medical care are not available, HAPE can progress to respiratory failure and ultimately to death. Remember that HAPE is the number one cause of death from high altitude illness.
More than half of people with HACE who develop coma die. Of those who survive, mental impairment and coordination defects may continue to affect them. HACE can be fatal if not recognized and treated quickly.
Eric A Nazziola, MD
John Lafleur, MD
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