3 Things To Know About Using Oxygen To Treat Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness occurs when you enter an area with a higher elevation without letting your body adjust to the change in altitude. Individuals who walk, hike, and bike up mountains are susceptible to altitude sickness. As the elevation increases, the air pressure and oxygen levels decrease. Symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, and a lack of coordination. 

While minor cases of altitude sickness will resolve themselves within a few days, some more intense cases require treatment. Or you find yourself uncomfortable as you wait for your body to acclimate. Supplemental oxygen is one option for treating altitude sickness. Here's what you need to know about treating altitude sickness with oxygen. 

1. You'll Need a Prescription for Oxygen

To effectively treat altitude sickness, you'll need to use supplemental oxygen in sufficient quantities. This means that small containers of oxygen commonly sold at retailers don't provide enough oxygen to improve your condition. While these oxygen containers can improve your physical endurance, they're not intended for medical use.

Most places located at high altitudes have businesses that offer prescription oxygen. Your doctor can contact the business ahead of time with your prescription. Or you can schedule an appointment with a local doctor to obtain a prescription. 

2. The Amount of Oxygen You Need Depends on Your Current Condition

The amount of oxygen that you need to reduce your symptoms of altitude sickness depends on your existing health status. For example, if you have a lung condition and already use oxygen, you'll need additional oxygen to combat altitude sickness. Or if you have a lung condition and don't currently need supplemental oxygen, you may need to use oxygen at a higher altitude. 

It's a misconception that only individuals who are out of shape or in poor health suffer from altitude sickness. Anyone, regardless of their fitness level, is susceptible. 

3. You Can Use Oxygen in Conjunction With Other Treatments

You may need to use multiple treatments to replicate conditions that your body is used to. Oxygen is commonly used with a prescription medication that increases your rate of breathing; this allows you to take in more oxygen. 

If you're suffering from severe altitude sickness and are unable to descend to a lower elevation, you might need to spend time in a portable hyperbaric chamber. The air pressure and oxygen levels inside the chamber replicate those found at lower altitudes. You can use oxygen while you're spending time in the chamber to further alleviate your symptoms. 

For more information, contact a company like Alpine Oxygen.