High Altitude Edema Illnesses Are Real Essay

1437 words - 6 pages

High altitude cerebral edema and high altitude pulmonary edema are very real, very lethal sicknesses. They mainly occur with people that experience extreme changes in elevation, at a faster pace that their bodies can get accustomed to. People that are mainly at risk are those who climb mountains to higher elevations, generally above a mile above sea level, and also those who fly after diving at deep depths. These two sicknesses, while potentially lethal, can be easily mitigated with the correct precaution taking, monitoring, and having the correct knowledge. The ability to differentiate the signs and symptoms of high altitude cerebral edema, and high altitude pulmonary edema, could be the difference of life and death.
There are cases of HACE and HAPE to where there have been fatalities, as well as 100% recovery with proper interventions after recognition of illness. One example found was in Nepal, on the Himalaya Mountains. The peak was called Imja Tse, and has a peak of 20,305 feet above sea level, or 6189 meters. The climber was a 34 year old Japanese male, in relatively decent physical shape. His expedition started with a flight from the town of Kathmandu, to the town of Lukla, which lies at 2850m above sea level. From there, they took a trip on foot to Phadking, dropping elevation to 2652m, and got rest before making the rest of his trek. He ate well, and seemed to be in good health to the guide. He also did not state any complaints to the guide about any negative symptoms he may have been feeling. The next stop taken on the trip was to Namche, at a rather higher elevation of 3440m, where he started complaining of moderate to severe fatigue. Himself and the group he was with spent the night here before taking the rest of the planned trip. The following day, they were scheduled to make a two hour trip from Pangboche, to Pheriche. With the man’s fatigue taking course, the trip took the group over six hours to complete. When noticing the ailment, the guide recommended that they stay the night and see what happens with his condition. The following morning, he was unable to be woken up. When he was taken to the nearby clinic for evaluation, he was deemed as comatose due to severe high altitude pulmonary edema. Normal vital signs for someone his age are a heart rate of 60-90 at rest, breathing of 14-20, oxygen saturation of over 95%, and a Glasgow coma scale of 15. When they took his vitals, his pulse was 135, o2 saturation of 35%, which is severely hypoxic, and had spontaneous breathing at around 20 per minute. All these signs point to severe HAPE. After spending 15 minutes in hypobaric therapy, he was able to talk to someone, but confusion, and an altered mental status. After 5 days of recovery, he was fully functional and able to continue. He then hiked two ridges, at 5600m, and 5500m, entirely symptom free. (Mietz)
High altitude pulmonary edema, referred to as HAPE in this paper, is a type of acute mountain sickness, or AMS. In simplest...

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