Altitude Sickness

  • High 8,000 – 12,000 Feet
  • Very High 12,000 – 18,000 Feet
  • Extreme 18,000+ Feet

About 40 % of hikers will experience Altitude Sickness above 10,000 Feet. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, (In fact one thing I read thought that a young person might be more susceptible), fit or not, (In fact one thing I read thought that a fit person might be more susceptible), male or female. If you have underlying health issues such as heart or lung problems than you can be more susceptible. If you have suffered from Altitude Sickness before than you are also more likely to get it again.

There are 3 types of Altitude Sickness each progressively more serious.

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
  • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
  • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is the most common and the most mild of the three types. It is the one we will spend the most time discussing. AMS is caused by a rapid exposure to a low amount of oxygen at a high elevation.

Symptoms Could Include:

  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal Distress
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive Flatulence
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Pins and Needles Sensation
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Irregular Breathing
  • Shortness of Breath Upon Exertion
  • Nose Bleed
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Rapid Pulse
  • Emotional
  • General Feeling of Malaise

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

Symptoms Could Include:

  • Same as AMS probably more intense with the addition of
  • Bronchitis
  • Shortness of Breath Even at Rest
  • Coughing Blood
  • Fever

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

Symptoms Could Include:

  • Same as AMS probably more intense and (HAPE) with the addition of
  • Confusion
  • Unsteady
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Retinal Hemorrhage

How to Avoid AMS

  • Don’t Go too High too Fast
  • Increase Altitude Slowly
  • Acclimatize
  • Over 10,000’ only add 1,000’/Day
  • Climb High, Sleep Low
  • Avoid Overexertion During Initial Days
  • Stay Adequately Hydrated
  • Carb Up
  • Avoid Coffee, Alcohol, and Tobacco

Mild Cases Might Find Comfort With

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetazolmide (Trade name Diamox)


  • Symptoms Worsen
  • Not Feeling Better After Vomiting
  • Cannot Walk a Straight Line

Disclaimer: If you are at high risk or climbing an extremely high mountain I would certainly suggest you read up on this topic and perhaps talk to a health professional. I am only providing a general review of things I have heard and read- not professional advice. Altitude Sickness seems to even be a bit of a mystery even to the health profession I might add.

I know all too well about Altitude Sickness as I feel it every time I am hiking above 10,000 Feet. While climbing Mount Langley over 14,000 Feet I was shocked and dismayed regarding what I was experiencing. I felt extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and something not right going on in my chest which I can’t really explain. Each step was an concerted effort and from 11,000 Feet to the last 100 yards to the summit I wasn’t sure I could make it. Of course it could have been worse as you can see from the list of symptoms.

If you found this article helpful then please LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW and by all means SHARE so that we can get the word out as severe cases can be fatal. If you are looking for places to adventure then checkout the menu. If you need gear checkout SHOP APPAREL.

Happy Trials-

Roger Jenkins

Pursuing Balance Through Adventure

3 thoughts on “Altitude Sickness”

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