Build Chamber Hyperbaric
Listening to the chest with a stethoscope (auscultation) reveals
sounds called crackles in the lung, which can mean pulmonary edema.A
chest x-ray may be performed.
The main form of treatment for all forms of mountain sickness
is to climb down (descend) to lower altitude as rapidly and safely
as possible. Supplemental oxygen should also be given, if available.
People with severe mountain sickness may be admitted to a hospital.
Acetazolamide (Diamox) is a drug used to stimulate breathing and
reduce mild symptoms of mountain sickness. This drug can cause
increased urination. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Do
not drink alcohol while taking this drug.
Pulmonary edema, the build up of fluids in the lungs, is treated
with oxygen, the high blood pressure medicine nifedipine, and,
in severe cases, a breathing machine.
The steroid drug dexamethasone (Decadron) may help reduce swelling
in the brain (cerebral edema).
Portable hyperbaric chambers have been developed to allow hikers
to simulate their conditions at lower altitudes without moving
from their location on the mountain. These new devices are very
important if bad weather or other factors make climbing down the
Most cases are mild, and symptoms improve promptly with a return
to lower altitude. Severe cases may result in death due to respiratory
distress or brain swelling (cerebral edema).
In remote locations, emergency evacuation may not be possible,
or treatment may be delayed. These conditions could adversely
affect the outcome.
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