Oxygen: Disappeared right out of thin air

Have you heard of anyone coming down with a case of altitude sickness?

Know when to say no to pushing limits,  because ultimately, playing it safe, could save your life.

There is a common phrase, ” the air is thinner,” that is paired with elevation… the to paint a more accurate photo, when at sea level the atmospheric pressure is accompanied by high levels of oxygen. With increased elevation this pressure begins to decrease substantially, thus lowering oxygen levels in the air, leading to signs and symptoms of altitude sickness, including, that of a minor headache,  to difficulty breathing and if ignored, death. This is illustrated in the graphic below.


There are three forms of altitude sickness

AMS (Altitude Mountain Sickness) AKA the “hangover” The symptoms are similar to the morning after a night of drinking heavily

HAPE (High altitude pulmonary edema) AKA excess fluid in the lungs, and may produce a frothy pink sputum and breathlessness even at rest, additionally, cyanosis and fever may develop. The best response to this is descent. There are a few medications that can relieve symptoms, one being Viagra due to the dilation of the blood vessels…is that isn’t a double edge sword. I don’t know what is..

HACE (High altitude cerebral edema) AKA  Swelling of the brain.. with symptoms including confusion, lethargy, vomiting and in serious form coma. this is a fatal form of of altitude sickness that should be treated immediately with descent and supplemental oxygen.

How to prevent altitude sickness:

  1. The most common cause of death resides in those hiking or traveling in larger groups as those feeling ill are less likely to speak up, or talk about feeling like death.
  2. Allow your body to adjust to significant change in altitude, Denver is also known as the mile high city so going from a place like Hawaii where you are at sea level to Colorado, your body will need time to adjust.
  3. The same goes if you’re on a hike spend time and take breaks along the way as a method for the body to play catch up.
  4. Be aware and ready to recognize the signs and symptoms of altitude sickness.
  5. Avoid hiking or reaching high elevation levels during or immediately after chest congestion as this could increase your risk to develop symptoms.

Be in the know, take it slow and don’t miss the signs when you’re on your next adventure!


**Disclaimer this website is here to simply express nature’s beauty. Dreambigtravelwide and it’s affiliates are not responsible for any injuries, or fatalities that may occur when performing outdoor activities, or anything covered in blog posts including altitude sickness. These activities can be dangerous. Please be responsible and know your limits, if you choose to participate, you are doing so at your own risk. This post is here simply to gain knowledge and awareness when hiking. If you are ever questioning your health or safety after this journey and are hurt in any way seek immediate medical attention.



4 Replies to “Oxygen: Disappeared right out of thin air”

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