Continuing to be immersed in the hustle and bustle of the city can be quite stressful. When your stresses mount, spending a considerable amount of time in a calm, peaceful environment like the mountains is a welcome change of pace for those looking to unwind.
But, the rapid decrease in pressure and oxygen saturation in the high altitudes may cause you to feel sick. This is known as high altitude sickness. At first, you may feel milder symptoms like a headache and nausea but can also evolve into something more severe, especially when left unaddressed. Learn more about remedies for high altitude sickness below.
Symptoms of Altitude Sickness
The degree to which altitude sickness manifests can vary and have different symptoms. Finding altitude sickness relief will be different, depending on the severity of the signs that do manifest. For instance, you may seek altitude sickness medication over the counter if milder symptoms are present, such as:
- Loss of Energy
- Sleep Problems
- Loss of Appetite
- Shortness of Breath
Milder forms of altitude sickness are the most common. But when left untreated, it may progress into a more moderate case, which increases the severity of the symptoms, including shortness of breath and fatigue, and will be accompanied by a tightening of the chest, loss of coordination, a severe headache that won’t go away despite over the counter treatment for altitude sickness.
Severe cases, although rare, may develop, which can be life-threatening. High-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) occur when there is fluid inside the lungs, which leads to difficulty breathing, or in the brain, which causes swelling. When left untreated, these can cause you to enter into a coma.
Who Is At Risk?
When traveling, it is impossible to tell whether you will develop the illness or not. Generally speaking, everyone is at risk of acquiring altitude sickness, regardless of age or level of physical fitness. However, the risk of developing the illness is higher when:
- You ascend to elevations more than 9,000 feet too quickly
- You have not been to a place with a higher elevation lately
- You have a genetic or medical condition that makes you more susceptible to the illness
Remedies for High Altitude Sickness
The best form of altitude sickness relief is still prevention. But in the event that you acquired the illness during a recent or current trip to an area with an altitude higher than 9,000 feet, you will be looking for ways to relieve the symptoms or treat the illness altogether. Here are some forms of altitude sickness relief that you can seek when suffering from high altitude sickness.
Descending to a Lower Elevation
The most recommended relief method from altitude sickness is to move to an area with a lower elevation. Most people feel better after descending at least 1600 feet, where the air pressure and oxygen density are much higher. Then, gradually ascend once acclimatized.
Use a Gamow Bag
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a standard treatment used to relieve or eliminate symptoms associated with high altitude sickness in areas with high elevations. But in areas where a hyperbaric chamber is inaccessible, Gamow Bags are used. While on the road, patients with moderate to severe cases of high altitude sickness are enclosed in the bag, which is inflated and pressurized through a foot pump to simulate an altitude drop and provide quick relief in emergency situations.
If you are planning on staying at an elevated altitude, you must take the necessary precautions to avoid aggravating your symptoms and find relief. Rest as much as possible and limit any physical activity that you do.
There are also other forms of altitude sickness medication over the counter that you can take for quick relief from milder symptoms as your body acclimates to the environment. The following are forms of over the counter treatment for altitude sickness that you can take:
- Ibuprofen. Painkillers like Advil, Motrin, and Midol are anti-inflammatory medicines that you can take to relieve pressure in the skull that causes severe headaches.
- Acetazolamide. Known by the brand name Diamox, this medication is one of the most popular forms of OTC medicine. It works by acidifying the blood in order to improve oxygenation and relieve such symptoms as headaches, tiredness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
If you have more prominent symptoms or in cases where the above OTC medicines don’t work, then your doctor might prescribe other medications, such as dexamethasone (Decadron), or nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat). Continue to take the medicine as prescribed by your doctor.
Give Pure Oxygen
Oxygen therapy by giving pure oxygen to patients with severe breathing problems can be a great way to provide relief. As mentioned above, this can be done inside a hyperbaric chamber where a patient can get access to pure oxygen. But this process can also be simulated at the comfort of your own mountain home using altitude simulation technology.
Advanced Altitude Simulation Technology for Altitude Sickness Relief
The addition of supplemental oxygen to your home is one of the most effective remedies for high altitude sickness, providing much-needed respite from altitude sickness symptoms without interrupting your lifestyle. This is made possible by Altitude Control Technology’s air separation technology that delivers oxygen directly to your room to increase oxygen saturation and simulate lower-altitude conditions effectively. These levels are constantly monitored through sensors that monitor oxygen levels, air quality, and barometric pressure and are controlled by a central controller to maintain optimal conditions to ensure maximum comfort.