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High Altitude Cerebral Edema

Last updated June 24, 2021

Reviewed by: Subramanian Malaisamy MD, MRCP (UK), FCCP (USA)

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) represents the spectrum of symptoms that develop in individuals who travel to high altitudes.


The topic High Altitude Cerebral Edema you are seeking is a synonym, or alternative name, or is closely related to the medical condition Acute Mountain Sickness.

Quick Summary:

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) represents the spectrum of symptoms that develop in individuals who travel to high altitudes
  • It typically affects those who are not acclimatized to high altitudes. The low oxygen levels and reduced air pressure at high altitude is the primary reason of developing this condition
  • AMS is commonly seen in mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, and travelers, who visit places that are located at elevated locations, typically more than 2,000 m (around 6,500 ft) above sea level
  • AMS is commonly seen with faster rate of ascent on a mountain climb.
  • Depending on the severity of symptoms, Acute Mountain Sickness can be classified into 3 types:
    • Mild AMS
    • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
    • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
  • Breathing difficulty, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting are some of the common signs and symptoms of mild Acute Mountain Sickness. Severe sickness may cause complications such as cerebral (brain) and pulmonary (lung) edema and coma
  • Treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness includes immediately moving the individual to lower altitudes and oxygenation of blood. Early diagnosis and immediate management of the condition can avert adverse long-term effects
  • The most important preventive measure for Acute Mountain Sickness is to ascend slowly and gradually to higher altitudes

Please find comprehensive information on Acute Mountain Sickness regarding definition, distribution, risk factors, causes, signs & symptoms, diagnosis, complications, treatment, prevention, prognosis, and additional useful information HERE.

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Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 12, 2017
Last updated: June 24, 2021