National Science Foundation U.S. Antarctic Program
Altitude illness includes a host of symptoms that are common when going to moderate or higher altitudes. Normally symptoms are transient, lasting 2-3 days and are mild at altitudes of 7000 to 10,000 feet. Above these altitudes, symptoms may be more severe and at all altitudes there is the risk of life threatening illness. Typical symptoms include nausea or loss of appetite, headache, light headedness or dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, occasionally swelling in hands or feet and difficulty sleeping. More rare are the severe and life threatening conditions that include pulmonary and cerebral edema. Known contributors to altitude symptoms or sickness include how quickly one goes to altitude, how high the altitude is or great the change in altitude and how active one is at altitude. However, despite similar levels of exposure, some people appear to have much more severe symptoms, suggesting that some people are more susceptibility to the conditions that cause altitude illness.
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