Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute Mountain sickness or AMS is typically a transient mild illness resulting from ascents to altitudes above 8,000 feet (2,440 meters) or ascents at a rate greater than 1,000 feet (305 meters) per day above 8,000 feet. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and poor appetite. The symptoms usually disappear within a few days. Some individuals, however, may have to descend to gain relief. Life threatening complications of AMS include High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE); both require immediate descent. The incidence and severity of AMS may be reduced by taking Acetazolamide (Diamox) 24 to 48 hours prior to and during an ascent. The dosage is 125 mg. by mouth, twice a day for two days, but this medication should only be given under the direction of a physician.

When participating in high altitude operations, you should report any of the following symptoms to your corpsman or medical officer:

♦ Cough or progressive shortness of breath

♦ Coughing up blood or frothy spit

♦ Progressive symptoms of headache

♦ Mental confusion or difficulty thinking

♦ Visual disturbances

♦ Lack of urination in excess of 8 hours

♦ Excessive irregular breathing

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