Patients who ascend or descend slowly are less likely to develop mountain sickness than patients who ascend or descend quickly. This is because the body has time to adjust to altitude changes.
If patients are traveling to areas, such as ski resorts, that are higher than 8,250 feet above sea level, they should spend one to two days at an intermediate elevation.
Patients should not increase the altitude at which they sleep by more than 1,000 feet every 24 hours.
Patients with a history of mountain sickness may receive the prescription drug acetazolamide (Diamox®). This medication may help reduce the risk of mountain sickness because it helps the body adjust to elevation changes.
Patients with a history of mountain sickness, especially HAPE, may receive the prescription drug nifedipine (Procardia®). This drug is normally used to treat high blood pressure. However, it may also help prevent mountain sickness by stabilizing the blood flow to the lungs.
Patients should avoid physical exertion for the first 24 hours of climbing.
Patients should drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcoholic beverages while they are traveling or climbing to high altitudes.
Patients are encouraged to consume a high-carbohydrate diet during climbs.Patients who are planning on climbing high mountains that are more than 8,000 feet above sea level should bring proper medical equipment, such as a Gamow bag or supplemental oxygen, with them.
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