What is altitude sickness?
Unidentified mountaineers descend from the summit of Everest on May 19, 2009.
May 21st, 2012
06:39 PM ET

What is altitude sickness?

The 8000ers is an exclusive group, and the of cost of entry is high. Really high.

There are only 14 peaks in the world that extend 8,000 meters (26,247 feet)  into the atmosphere, including, of course, Earth's highest point - Mt. Everest. Unfortunately for some, the thrill of reaching that monumental 8,000-meter mark comes with more than just bragging rights. Altitude sickness, a potentially deadly risk of climbing, can set in at 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). And during the weekend, that was the fatal illness that befell some Everest hikers who paid the ultimate price.

Here are some of the telltale signs of and tips for combating altitude sickness:

Climb slowly. According to the National Institutes of Health, you are more likely to get acute mountain sickness if you climb faster and exert a lot of energy.

Stay hydrated, and eat your carbs. Expert's can't say for sure what causes altitude sickness, but longstanding advice says drink lots of (nonalcoholic) fluids, avoid sleeping pills or medicine that can affect breathing, and eat your carbs.

Take ibuprofen. Ibuprofen fights brain swelling, which, in rare cases, can be a fatal aspect of altitude sickness.

Know the symptoms. Other symptoms the National Institutes of Health says to look out for:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid pulse (heart rate)
  • Shortness of breath with exertion
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin (cyanosis)
  • Chest tightness or congestion
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Decreased consciousness or withdrawal from social interaction
  • Gray or pale complexion
  • Inability to walk in a straight line, or to walk at all
  • Shortness of breath at rest
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soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    @ I Believe!
    You know me, and your nom de plume reminds me of psychic Arthur Ford's message from Houdini to his wife, "...Beatrice, Believe."

    May 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Hesham

    Nice to see you had a good experience. As for the shlttue bus thing, I've had similar experiences with loud people on trains/buses and I usually don't say anything (and the one time I did, it was to back up another person who spoke up) because I don't like drawing public attention in situations like that and well yeah I know how you feel in those type of situations. Still I'm glad you had a relatively good experience, wish I could have gone but it's an expensive ride from Scotland to San Diego :(

    July 14, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Taylor

    This is a video of when i got HACE on Aconcagua:

    August 13, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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