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Mountain Sickness (cont.)

What is the outlook for a person who gets altitude sickness?

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 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, high-altitude pulmonary edema can progress to respiratory failure and ultimately to death. High-altitude pulmonary edema is the number one cause of death from high altitude illness.

More than half of people with high-altitude cerebral edema who develop coma die. Of those who survive, mental impairment and coordination defects may continue to affect them. High-altitude cerebral edema can be fatal if not recognized and treated quickly.

Altitude Sickness Pictures

Andes Mountains, Peru, October 2000.
Andes Mountains, Peru, October 2000. Click to view larger image.

 High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Image courtesy Dr Peter Hackett.
High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Image courtesy Dr Peter Hackett. Click to view larger image.

Hyperbaric treatment at 4250 m in a Gamow bag.
Hyperbaric treatment at 4250 m in a Gamow bag. Click to view larger image.

REFERENCE:

Goyal, R., MD. "High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema." Medscape. Updated Nov 30, 2013.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/300716-overview>


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/15/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Altitude-Related Disorders »

Mountains have fascinated and attracted humankind for millennia.

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