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Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute Mountain Sickness

Set of symptoms that characterize the body's reaction to altitude. Acute Mountain Sickness is linked to the drop in oxygen pressure in the ambient air (hypoxia) and consequently to the lack of oxygen pressure in our blood (hypoxemia). Acute mountain sickness occurs mainly at the start of the stay at altitude during the inevitable and essential phase of acclimatization. None of the symptoms described below are specific to the disease, but it is both the context of the altitude and the accumulation of several of these signs that make the diagnosis. The onset of an acute mountain sickness does not necessarily mean that we must give up, it is rather the extent and profusion of these symptoms that depends on the occurrence of much more serious secondary complications, even fatal (pulmonary or cerebral edema). Headache +++ / Insomnia ++ / Digestive disorders + / Shortness of breath / Lack of appetite / Low urine / Yawning / Daytime sleepiness / Disorientation / Dizziness / Stress / Irritability / Depression. To behave.Rest at the same altitude, it usually suffices to soothe the troubles and allows you to resume the climb the next day. Descending, it works miraculously: a loss of elevation of only 500m can rapidly improve the patient's condition and prevent his condition from deteriorating.


Hyperbaric chamber, the best solution when the descent is impossible.


Stage 1: Calm headaches from common pain relievers (paracetamol, aspirin)

  • Respect the levels! Do not exceed 400m between two consecutive nights above 3000m.

Stage 2: Headache resistant to common analgesics

  • Rest for a day or two at the same altitude.
  • Traditional analgesics.
  • Hydration +++.

 Stage 3: Difficult breathing at rest or / and balance disorders and / or behavioral disorders

  • Oxygen
  • Downhill ++
  • Recompression chamber.
  • Acetazolamide (diamox).


Warning! In 5% of cases, headaches are absent. In this case, it is the abnormal tiredness and the digestive signs (nausea, vomiting) which predominate.


This is one of the main complications of acute mountain sickness. It usually occurs during the first part of the stay at altitude, during the acclimation phases.

those who do not respect the levels of acclimatization are the first threats. People who have already had acute lung edema are likely to re-offend.

Beware, it is the night that the edema is prepared, because the ventilation is less good and it is in the morning, when the rooster crows, that he finishes his victim. From 4000m altitude, never sleep alone, especially at the beginning of the stay!

Recognize the premonitory signs +++ (shortness of breath at rest)
Headache not stop despite the important doses of aspirin or paracetamol, exaggerated fact, shaking behavior, excessive drowsiness, apathy, agitation with delirium, excessive breathlessness at rest.

Recognize the warning signs
At first breathlessness then suffocation and asphyxia and laryngeal gland, expectoration of pink salmon moss.

Downhill +++
Oxygen if available.
Compression chamber is descent impossible.


Headache not ceding despite high doses of aspirin or paracetamol, with significant vomiting.
Shaking of balance (ataxia) +++ and behavioral disorders, the subject is no longer coherent, he deliriums, suffers from hallucinations, becomes aggressive or much too sleepy and falls into a coma.

Know the warning signs
Downhill +++
Oxygen if available
Compression chamber if descent impossible.