Skip to main content

Altitude Illness

Stephen E. Meyers, MD and Linda Meyers, MD Reviewed 06/2020
 


BASICS

DESCRIPTION

  • A spectrum of cerebral and pulmonary syndromes ranging from mild discomfort to fatal illness that occurs on ascent to higher altitudes as a direct result of inadequate acclimatizatio...

DIAGNOSIS

HISTORY

  • AMS: mild to moderate symptoms

    • Headache, plus at least one of:

      • Anorexia

      • Nausea or vomiting

      • Dizziness or light-headedness

      • Insomnia

  • AMS: severe symptoms

    • Severe headache

    • Irritability

    • Marked fatig...

TREATMENT

GENERAL MEASURES

  • Individuals without previous altitude exposure should adhere to acclimatization guidelines.

  • Stop ascent, acclimatize at the same altitude, and/or descend if symptoms do not ab...

ONGOING CARE

FOLLOW-UP RECOMMENDATIONS

Patient Monitoring

  • For mild cases, no follow-up is needed.

  • For more severe cases, follow closely until symptoms subside.

PATIENT EDUCATION

Counsel patients about the ...

REFERENCES

1
Davis C, Hackett P. Advances in the prevention and treatment of high altitude illness. Emerg Med Clin North Am.  2017;35(2):241–260.
2
Bärtsch P, Swenson ER. Clinical practice: acute hi...

ADDITIONAL READING

  • Imray C, Booth A, Wright A, et al. Acute altitude illnesses. BMJ.  2011;343:d4943.

  • Jin J. Acute mountain sickness. JAMA.  2017;318(18):1840.

  • Luks AM, McIntosh SE, Grissom CK...

CODES

ICD10

  • T70.20XA Unspecified effects of high altitude, initial encounter

  • T70.20XD Unspecified effects of high altitude, subsequent encounter

  • T70.20XS Unspecified effects of high altitude, sequela

  • T70....

CLINICAL PEARLS

  • Slow ascent and timely descent are important to prevent and treat high-altitude illnesses.

  • Lack of symptom resolution with appropriate descent suggests an alternative diagnosis.

  • High-flo...

Subscribe to Access Full Content

Sign Up for a 10-Day Free Trial

Sign up for a 10-day FREE Trial now and receive full access to all content.

×