Study Says ‘Two Illnesses’ Comprise Altitude Sickness

Image by Jan Setfi | Flickr

Image by Jan Setfi | Flickr

Scientists from Edinburgh University claim that altitude sickness is composed of two illnesses.

‘At least two’

Altitude sickness is a condition brought about by reduced oxygen levels. It causes headaches, mild sickness, and potentially fatal complications that affect the brain, heart, and lungs. The condition happens at heights over 2,500 meters.

The illness is said to have “at least two separate syndromes,” said the researchers.

The said research opens the doors for the improvement of current treatment methods for people who suffer from the condition, particularly those who frequent high altitude areas such as skiers and climbers.

For testing ‘new treatments’

The researchers studied symptom patterns among people in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, and Bolivia. One group said their sleep was disturbed, but there was minimal headache. Another group claimed to have headaches, but little sleep disruption. Others registered mixed symptoms.

Edinburgh University Roslin Institute’s Dr. Ken Baillie said, “Studying these syndromes in isolation will make it easier to understand the cause of each one, and to test new treatments.”