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Acute mountain sickness

  • Definition

    Acute mountain sickness is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, or travelers at high altitude (typically above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters).

    Alternative Names

    High altitude cerebral edema; Altitude anoxia; Altitude sickness; Mountain sickness; High altitude pulmonary edema

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Acute mountain sickness is due to a combination of reduced air pressure and lower oxygen levels at high altitudes.

    The faster you climb to a high altitude, the more likely you will get acute mountain sickness. Your symptoms will also depend on the speed of your climb and how hard you push (exert) yourself.

    You are at higher risk for acute mountain sickness if:

    • You live at or near sea level
    • You had the illness before