Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Altitude Sickness Treatment

Mild high altitude illness generally improves in 36 hours, as long as the person does not ascend to a higher altitude. Ascending to a higher altitude may make symptoms worse, and may lead to high altitude pulmonary edema or high altitude cerebral edema.

Treatment for high altitude illness may include:

  • Do not proceed to a higher altitude.
  • Descent to lower altitude
  • Oxygen therapy for high altitude illness

Medications used to treat high altitude illness include:

For more information:

Altitude Sickness Drugs

Medications used to treat high altitude illness include:

The early use of acetazolamide can help prevent mountain sickness. Taking this medicine a day or two before, and for the first 2-3 days at altitude will prevent high altitude illness in most people. Oxygen promptly relieves headache, dizziness, and most other symptom.

Continue to Altitude Sickness Home Care

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Altitude Sickness References
  1. Basnyat B, Murdoch DR. High-altitude illness. Lancet. 2003 Jun 7;361(9373):1967-74. [12801752]
  2. Foster PP, Feiveson AH, Boriek AM. Predicting time to decompression illness during exercise at altitude, based on formation and growth of bubbles. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2000 Dec;279(6):R2317-28. [11080100]
  3. Gallagher SA, Hackett PH. High-altitude illness. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2004 May;22(2):329-55, viii. Review. [15163571]
  4. Gertsch JH, Basnyat B, Johnson EW, Onopa J, Holck PS. Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled comparison of ginkgo biloba and acetazolamide for prevention of acute mountain sickness among Himalayan trekkers: the prevention of high altitude illness trial (PHAIT). BMJ. 2004 Apr 3;328(7443):797. [15070635]
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