Acosta disease: Description:Also called as altitude sickness.A condition that results from prolonged exposure to high altitude.A syndrome caused by low inspired oxygen pressure (as at high altitude) and characterized by nausea, headache, dyspnea, malaise, and insomnia; in severe instances, pulmonary edema and adult respiratory distress syndrome can occur.Alternative Names: mountain sickness, soroche, altitude disease, puna, and aerial sickness.This sickness affects close to half of all people who begin near to sea level and climb to 14,000 feet of elevation without scheduling enough rest time.Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors:Major symptoms acosta disease may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. In some cases, symptoms may progress to confusion, coma, and death. Signs of pulmonary oedema may also develop. Minor symptoms acosta disease after 4 to 8 days of acclimatization. The return to lower altitude immediately improves the clinical manifestations.You must be able to recognize the early symptoms of altitude sickness, and you should watch carefully for symptoms when you are at risk because altitude illnesses can be life threatening.If headache is your only symptom, you should stop climbing and take a mild pain reliever. If you have a headache that does not go away or if you have other symptoms that suggest acute acosta disease, this illness can be diagnosed without tests.High-altitude cerebral edema can make it difficult to walk a straight line, and can lead to changes in thinking, hallucinations or an unexplained change in personality. If a person has these symptoms at high altitude, you should assume that the person has high-altitude cerebral edema. A person with these symptoms should descend immediately and seek medical care. Once a person with high-altitude cerebral edema has been transported to a medical center, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be done to confirm the cause of the symptoms. An MRI can show brain swelling.Recognizing high-altitude pulmonary edema can be difficult in its early stages because fatigue may be the only sign. Symptoms that should be of concern include difficulty exercising, dry cough, rapid heart rate (more than 100 beats per minute), and shortness of breath while resting. Listening to the lungs with a stethoscope may reveal a crackling noise with each breath. If blood oxygen levels were measured, they would be lower than expected for your altitude. X-rays may show signs of fluid filling one or more areas within the lungs, giving an appearance that is similar to pneumonia.High-altitude retinal hemorrhage can be diagnosed by a doctor who examines the eye with a hand-held instrument called an ophthalmoscope.Treatment:Treatment includes the immediate movement to a lower altitude.The first rule of treatment for mild symptoms of acute acosta disease is to stop ascending until your symptoms are completely gone. If you have more severe symptoms or any symptoms of high-altitude cerebral edema, high-altitude pulmonary edema or blurred vision, you need to move to a lower altitude as soon as possible, even if it's the middle of the night. If you remain at your current altitude or continue going higher, the symptoms will get worse and the sickness can be fatal.Besides moving to a lower altitude, you can treat mild altitude sickness with rest and pain relievers. The drug acetazolamide can speed recovery. This drug balances your body chemistry and stimulates breathing.If you have symptoms of altitude sickness, avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and narcotic pain medications. All of these can slow your breathing, which is extremely dangerous in low-oxygen conditions.Besides moving to a lower altitude - or if a descent must be delayed - you can treat high-altitude cerebral edema with supplemental oxygen and the drug dexamethasone, which decreases brain swelling. If one is available, this condition is also helped by time spent in a portable hyperbaric (pressure) chamber, which simulates descent to a lower altitude, during the time that supervision and transportation arrangements are being made for descent to lower altitude. Additional treatment for high-altitude pulmonary edema includes oxygen and Nifedipine, as well as the use of a standard hyperbaric chamber.Precautions:Do not increase your altitude by more than 1,000 feet per night.
Each time you increase your altitude by 3,000 feet, spend a second night at this elevation before going farther.
Limit your physical exertion to reasonable levels during your first few days of ascent to altitude.
Drink plenty of fluid during your altitude exposure.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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