How to recover from altitude sickness?

Q. How to recover from altitude sickness?

Answered by
Dr. Sameer Kumar
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 22, 2017 and last reviewed on: Jun 15, 2023

Hello doctor,

I have got really bad mountain (altitude) sickness before five days. They put me on oxygen and gave me a pill at the airport. I traveled back to sea level and seemed to be recovering. I traveled in a car the last couple of days, and I am now with very little medical support. I have weird chest and stomach pains that were similar to when I got altitude sickness. I do not want to eat. I did have some chicken, rice and water an hour ago to get some energy. I think I got the second stage HACE or HAPE. My face is not swollen. I am worried about my chest and stomach pains. What to do?



Welcome to

  1. The picture does appear to be that of HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema). The presence of a headache, difficulty in breathing, chest heaviness, irritability, and stomach pains are initial symptoms of altitude sickness.
  2. You have rightly been given oxygen and brought down to a lower altitude, which balances the internal and external pressures.
  3. You should be placed on diuretics like Acetazolamide to allow for better recovery. Increase your water intake to 12 to 16 cups of water a day, and you need to rest for four hours to acclimatize at a lower altitude now.
  4. You must get an X-ray chest done to rule out pulmonary edema to establish the diagnosis. As there does not seem any incoordination or dizziness accompanied, then HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) seems unlikely. Just take oxygen, rest, and medications.

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