High altitude illnesses in Hawai'i.Hawaii J Med Public Health. 2014 Nov; 73(11 Suppl 2):4-6.HJ
High Altitude Headache (HAH), Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) are all high altitude related illnesses in order of severity from the mildly symptomatic to the potentially life-threatening. High altitude illnesses occur when travelers ascend to high altitudes too rapidly, which does not allow enough time for the body to adjust. Slow graded ascent to the desired altitude and termination of ascent if AMS symptoms present are keys to illness prevention. Early recognition and rapid intervention of AMS can halt progression to HACE. Pharmacologic prophylaxis with acetazolamide is a proven method of prevention and treatment of high altitude illness. If prevention fails then treatment modalities include supplemental oxygen, supportive therapy, hyperbaric treatment, and dexamethasone. Given the multitude of visitors to the mountains of Hawai'i, high altitude illness will continue to persist as a prevalent local condition. This paper will emphasize the prevention and early diagnosis of AMS so that the illness does not progress to HACE.