Acute Mountain Sickness

What is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)?

Our bodies have ability to adjust to high altitude but need time.  This illness occurs as the result of failure to adapt to a higher altitude, normally while you go beyond 2000 meters rapidly, which is called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).   Fluid accumulates in between the cells in the body specially – in the LUNGS and BRAIN.  The early symptoms are headache, extreme fatigue, and loss of appetite.  When mild symptoms develop, you must stay at the altitude until symptoms have gone away. Trek up gently about 300 meters in a day beyond 3000 meters to adjust your body system with altitude.

 If the fluid collects in Lungs- (This is known as HAPE- High-altitude pulmonary edema)

Symptoms are: Short breaths, a cough begins- first dry, irritating than to Pink.

If the fluid collects in Brain: (This is known as HACE– High-altitude cerebral edema)

Symptoms are: – Headache, Loss of appetite, nausea, and Vomiting.

These makes you tired and want to lie down, do not want to do anything. You develop a problem with balance and coordination and you sleep in to coma.

If we ignored, symptoms can be progress- sever forms of Altitude sickness:

AMS– Acute Mountain Sickness takes several hours to develop after reaching a new height.

Rules to avoid High Altitude sickness:

Early symptoms: Short breaths, cough or Headache, loss of appetite, nausea, and fatigue


  If there is symptoms of AMS, never ascend to sleep in new height. Descend immediately if your symptoms are getting worse while resting at the same Altitude.

TREATMENT: Descend: Decend: decend !!!

If no way to descend – use PAC (to create hi-air pressure, where Victim gets more  oxygen) or Oxygen for one hour and sometime 4- 6 hours of treatment needed.

If you are flying in to high altitude straight such as everest base camp or Shyangboche beyond 3000 meters, taking Diamox in advance would be better, otherwise use it when you get mild symptoms of it.

MEDICINE: Diamox – ½ tab (125 gm) every 12 hours. After using this, you will have mild tingling of hands/feet is common.