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Emergency Medical Minute


Dec 21, 2020

Contributor: Tom Seibert, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Acute Mountain sickness (AMS) can cause headache along with fatigue, nausea, vomiting, insomnia
  • Typically occurs above 6500 feet (not 65,000) in elevation  
  • Acclimation to altitude can help prevent symptoms
  • if not treated, AMS can advance to severe illness involving cerebral or pulmonary edema.
  • Mild symptoms can be managed with rest but more severe symptoms will require descent, oxygen, acetazolamide and steroids
  • Acetazolamide can be used as both a preventative and therapeutic drug


Davis C, Hackett P. Advances in the Prevention and Treatment of High Altitude Illness. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2017 May;35(2):241-260. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2017.01.002. PMID: 28411926.

Summarized by Jackson Roos, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD

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