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Mountain Sickness (cont.)

What are the early signs and symptoms of altitude sickness?

Early symptoms of acute mountain sickness are usually the following:

However, acute mountain sickness may be associated with any combination of the following symptoms:

What are the late symptoms of acute mountain sickness?

Late symptoms of acute altitude sickness include:

  • Swelling of extremities (late symptom)
  • Social withdrawal (late symptom)

People with acute mountain sickness often attribute their symptoms to other causes such as an uncomfortable bed, bad food, or a hangover. However, it is important to recognize that these symptoms may indicate a high altitude illness.

What are the signs and symptoms of high-altitude pulmonary edema?

High-altitude pulmonary edema, an advanced form of altitude sickness, causes the following progression of symptoms to develop. The person may have:

  • Several of the acute mountain sickness symptoms develop slowly or rapidly (early symptoms)
  • Shortness of breath at rest (early symptom)
  • Gurgling respirations
  • A wet cough with frothy sputum
  • A fever
  • Respiratory failure (late symptom)

The onset of high-altitude pulmonary edema can be gradual or sudden. High-altitude pulmonary edema typically occurs after more than one day spent at high altitude. High-altitude pulmonary edema requires immediate treatment.

What are the signs and symptoms of high-altitude cerebral edema?

High-altitude cerebral edema produces symptoms that can become progressively worse over a short time period.

  • Any acute mountain sickness or high-altitude pulmonary edema symptoms (early symptoms)
  • confusion (early symptom)
  • Cannot do usual functions (hiking, skiing, for example) because of fatigue or shortness of breath
  • Walking and coordination become impaired.
  • As the brain continues to swell, lethargy and then coma will develop (late symptoms).
  • If left untreated, high-altitude cerebral edema will ultimately result in death.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2015

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