High Altitude Pulmonary Edema Overview
What is high altitude pulmonary edema?
A person with high altitude pulmonary edema has too much fluid in the lungs, caused by exposure to high altitude. Pulmonary edema causes difficulty breathing and can result in respiratory failure. About 12% of people develop symptoms of high altitude illness at an altitude of 9,000 feet. Only a small percentage of people with high altitude illness develop pulmonary edema.
What are the symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema?
Initial symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema may include dry cough, nausea, headache, fever, weakness, fatigue, and mild difficulty breathing that worsens at night and with exertion. Symptoms of severe high altitude pulmonary edema include a bloody cough, severe difficulty breathing, confusion, cyanosis, and coma.
How does the doctor treat high altitude pulmonary edema?
High altitude pulmonary edema is a medical emergency. Treatment for high altitude pulmonary edema includes immediate descent to a lower altitude. Additional treatment for high altitude pulmonary edema includes oxygen therapy and hyperbaric therapy.
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