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 th...
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... It is normally preventable, except in situations where it is secondary to HAPE, or caused by worsening weather, causing a drop in the pressure in the atmosphere. The treatments of this are the same as for HAPE, with the upmost importance to descend to where the patient was last symptom free and coherent. At the soonest available time, to get the patient on oxygen to reverse the symptoms. (Mietz)
High altitude pulmonary edema and high altitude cerebral edema can both be lethal. But with proper planning, slow ascent when going up in high elevation, periodic screening of trekkers, and the ability to descend, and transport to a facility can reverse complications, and save the patient’s life with little to no future defects. With knowing the signs, symptoms, preventative measures and treatments, it gives what could be the confidence needed to have a successful climb.
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