Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is still somewhat of a mystery to medical experts, but what they do know undeniably, is that it is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. If you are planning a trip to a ski resort high in the mountains, or any other location that has an altitude about 6,000 feet above sea level, AMS can be a threat.
There are a few different ways to prevent AMS is the first place, and everyone is different in how going to a high altitude affects them. One person might get it mildly while another gets violently ill. It can be especially dangerous to those with a chronic lung disease.
Using a home oxygen concentrator might be the best way to prevent mountain sickness since it allows more oxygen to get into the blood stream. You might want to talk to your doctor about doing this, well before your trip to the mountains.
What Are the Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness?
- Swelling of hands feet and face
The more severe symptoms can indicate life-threatening mountain sickness:
- Persistent dry cough
- Shortness of breath even when restings
- Cerebral edema (brain swelling)
- Increased vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
These are the risk factors for AMS:
- If you've had AMS in the past
- If you have alcohol during the first night at a higher altitude
- Fast rate of ascent
- Your genetic makeup
How Effective is Oxygen Therapy in Treating AMS?
If you are experiencing symptoms associated with AMS after you've ascended to a higher altitude, using oxygen therapy has been seen to alleviate these symptoms in minutes. You should also stay still and not overexert yourself. It's also best not to go any higher than where you are until your body acclimates to the new altitude.
Since AMS is caused mainly by low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia), using an oxygen concentrator would be the best way to fix the problem. The air is thinner at high altitudes, and your lungs aren't able yet to bring in enough oxygen if you aren't used to it.
Breathing in a pure concentration of oxygen makes it possible to bring in enough oxygen, so your bloodstream can distribute it to your brain, and to the rest of your body.
If you already have a health condition, be sure to talk to your doctor before you travel to higher altitudes. You are already at a much higher risk of getting AMS, and using a prescribed amount of oxygen therapy from an oxygen concentrator would be your best bet.
Now that you know the symptoms, causes and risk factors of AMS, you'll know what to look for and how to prevent it from happening to you.