Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
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Acute Mountain Sickness
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can affect as much as 20% of adults and children who travel from sea level to above 8,000 feet regardless of their physical condition. At 12,183 feet (the highest point on Trail Ridge Road) there is 35% less oxygen that at sea level and 50% less oxygen at the top of Longs Peak. In addition, symptoms may not appear for 2 to 3 days after arriving in the mountains. Although there are no laboratory tests to identify AMS, useful clinical criteria are the presence of at least three of the following seven possible symptoms:
If symptoms persist or worsen, go to a lower elevation as soon as possible and seek medical attention. The acclimatization process is inhibited by dehydration, over-exertion, and alcohol and other depressant drugs. If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease. "Don't go up until symptoms go down".
Preventing Altitude Sickness
Prevention of altitude illnesses falls into two categories, proper acclimatization and preventive medications. Below are a few basic guidelines for proper acclimatization.