Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness occurs when people go to a higher altitude too quickly and do not get enough oxygen in the air they breathe. Common symptoms include having a headache and not feeling like eating.

Altitude sickness most often occurs at altitudes above 8000 ft (2438 m). In mild cases, the symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medicine, but the best way to treat altitude sickness is to go to a lower altitude quickly.

Altitude sickness can be deadly. People with symptoms should not go to a higher altitude until the symptoms are gone. Symptoms of confusion, feeling faint, or not being able to walk in a straight line mean the condition is life-threatening.

Last Updated: April 14, 2009

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

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