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Mountain Sickness: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment ? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment?(When is the treatment done ?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any Side Effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment ?

Mountain sickness is sometimes referred to as the Altitude Sickness. It is a series of signs and symptoms that mostly attacks those who hike or walk to a higher altitude very fast. In other terms, it evokes from continuous exposure to minimum amounts of oxygen at a higher altitude or so. There are three categories of Mountain sickness comprising of:

  1. Acute Mountain sickness(AMS)- It is considered the to be very mild as well as being very common. It is accompanied with headaches, nauseas, muscles ache as well as more or less of hangovers
  2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema(HAPE)- This is a disease that escalates from accumulation of fluid in the lungs and it is very perilous and a sometime may lead to death
  3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)- It is the most caustic form of mountain sickness and occurs due to presence of fluid in the cells of the brain. It is deadly and may lead to death without medication assistance.


The most convenient treatment for the altitude sickness is to descend from the high elevations. In relation to that, the pursuit of saving lives or stabilizing a patient’s health suffering from Mountain sickness is critical thus only immensely trained physicians are remarkable for this. Treatment done to patients depends on their locality as well as the situation they are in. Let’s take a look at some of the treatment methods used for patients suffering from Mountain diseases. Patients should;

  1. Stop and take some rest where you are
  2. Restrict yourself from reaching higher heights in at least 24-48 hours
  3. Patients with headshakes should take ibuprofen or paracetamol
  4. Sickling patients should take an anti-sickness medication for instance the promethazine
  5. Make sure to drink enough amount of water
  6. Shun away from alcohol and smoking in order to reduce the effects on lungs.
  7. Eat a light diet that contains high calories

    For future treatment, Acetazolamide can be used to minimize the severity of a patients signs and symptoms thou it partially hides them. Patients should learn to Inform their travel companions how they feel regardless whether the symptoms are not severe at first in order to reduce the risk of losing lives. Also, you can as well proceed going up carefully after you recover fully. Avoid hiking higher if your symptoms have not completely gone. In addition, patients who know they are legible to this sickness should consider carrying with them these medications described above as prescribed by their doctors. If symptoms persist, seek further medical assistance

How is the treatment done?

As stated above, the Mountain Sickness is deadly and at some extreme conditions may lead to death. In order to avoid such a calamity, physicians and well trained medics are brought into line of duty to save lives. In this matter, doctors with specialty in pulmonary care, neurologists as well as hyperbaric technicians are required. Patients with severe symptoms need further medical help.

For treatment, a doctor uses the Stethoscope to listen to your chest for the pulse. The doctor then uses an X-ray of your chest or A Magnetic Resonce Imaging (MRI) as well Computed Tomography(CT) of your brain to search for the presence of any fluid. After knowing the symptoms of the Mountain sickness as well as the location of fluids in your body, the doctor is able to assist you in your medication onwards. In this manner, the doctor is able to give you medication depending on the kind of the altitude sickness that has attacked you as a patents.

  • For HACE, the doctor will administer you with a steroid known as dexamethasone for the supplement for oxygen in your body cells as well as reducing the swellings of the brain.
  • For HAPE, patients with chest tightness and difficulties in breathing, are given nifedipine medication to solve this
  • For AMS, Ibuprofens as well as paracetamol are prescribed to patients in order to relieve headaches, acetazolamide and promethazine are also offered to prevent high altitude sickness and nausea respectively.

Who is eligible for the treatment?(When is the treatment done ?)

It is important to note that anyone is a victim of the altitude sickness regardless of how healthy, fit or young they are. This also include athletes. By the way, to be in a good physical statures and physically active at high altitudes puts you in a risk to be stormed with the Mountain disease deepening on how vigorous you are or move to higher altitudes.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Patients with Mild Acute mountain sickness that resolves too fast in most cases do not have to follow-up with a healthcare-care physician. However, these patients are advised to follow these guidelines to the latter;

  • Abide to the instructions concerning a limit of activities
  • Use of additional oxygen
  • Postponement of hiking or immediate descending if needed
  • Take their medication as prescribed to them
  • Keep any follow-up booking s with the doctors
  • Immediately Seek medication assistance in cases of the symptoms worsening or in case of emerging of new signs or symptoms.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol as well as smoking tobacco more so while at the high elevations.

Are there any Side Effects?

Treatment of Mountain Sickness is usually successful if the quickest actions are taken as soon as possible. Failure to that, severe effects occur to a patient causing their death. In case descent is not possible or hyperbaric therapy fails, HAPE most probably leads to failure in the respiratory systems as a whole leading to death. A quite good number of patients suffering from HACE who progress to a Coma end up succumbing to death. For those who by chance survive, they suffer from mental impairment as well as long term coordination defects of the body more so the respiratory systems.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Patients after medication with their doctors, they are given some guidelines that will help them stay safe and recover in the shortest time possible. Patients are advised to;

  • Avoid any hiking or walking on a higher elevation until full recovery
  • Have enough rest and stay warm
  • In case of headaches, patients are advised to take acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Avoid the usage of sleeping pills and other central systems depressants to treat insomnia because this can lead to a suppression of breathing
  • If the symptoms become worse, descended to an altitude of 1000-2000 feet immediately
  • If descending is not possible at the moment, use a portable hyperbaric chamber (Gamow bag) to simulate a lower elevation

How long does it take to recover?

Most Patients for suffer from Mild Mountain sickness usually experience sighs and symptoms within 12 to 24 ours upon attain a higher altitude. After medication and treatment, patients take two to three days in order to recover. By this period of time, the body adjust to change in the altitude that has occurred. In some special cases, patients end up feeling intense symptoms that do not improve with over-the-counter-medications. Such patients may end up spending more time recovering to normal condition. Especially the one whose symptoms are severe and experience difficulties in breathing as well as chest tightening end up spending even much time in medication process and other end up in a coma which in sever cases leads to death.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The best medical hospitals such as the Apollo Hospital, Maxsuper Specialty Hospital and Fortis Hospital all located in New Delhi India, offers professional medical attention to their patients. They are oriented in offering quality services that is recommended as world class. These Hospital offers their medication of Mountain sickness well known as the Altitudes sickness at a fair price of approximately 20000 to 45000 rupees. Their medication comes with a comprehensive Health check-up as well. Also, with their sophisticated equipment, services are offered in the shortest time possible using technological advanced systems as well as professional doctors and technicians.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Treatment of the Mountain sickness depends on how an individual will adapt to the environment. Continuous changes in altitude will absolutely help your body to get used to the low amount of oxygen surroundings and can minimize the risks at which you will be exposed to mountain sickness. It is important to note that individuals adapt to different rates of altitude. With proper medication as prescribed by the doctors, patients end up staying healthy even if they continue with their hiking activities as long as the guidelines give are followed to the latter.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

According to the French researchers, a new use for Viagra may be effective in other fields. This erectile dysfunction drug may help to protect against the lung problems that occur due to high elevations. Mountain sickness is most prone to those individuals who have lung or heart related diseases. Viagra work in that in relaxes the blood vessels thus allowing more blood to flow smoothly. It also helps the lungs get sufficient oxygen while hiking especially to Men’s lungs. According to this research, it was discovered that Viagra are more effective than placebo.

Popular Questions & Answers

Hi, I'm going to Gangtok for vacation. Due to high altitude doctor preferred me Diamox tablet. He told me to take the tablet before 10-12 hours of journey. After taking this tablet can I take domstal 10 mg? What about vertizac? Without taking diamox can I take vertizac? Please help me via answer.

C.S.C, D.C.H, M.B.B.S
General Physician, Alappuzha
You can domstal 10 mg and without taking diamox can I take vertizac. Vertizac tablet is a combination of two medicines: cinnarizine and dimenhydrinate. Cinnarizine is a calcium channel antagonist that works by preventing constriction of the blood ...

Hi I am traveling to leh ladak can you tell me diamox tablet is good for altitude sickness.

C.S.C, D.C.H, M.B.B.S
General Physician, Alappuzha
Acetazolamide (Brand Name: Diamox) is a "water pill" (diuretic) used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. Acetazolamide is also used with other medications to treat a certain type of eye problem (open-angle glaucoma). Acetazola...

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