high altitude sickness or something else…?

  • Creator
  • #6723

    Hi.I’ve a question about high altitude sicknes or something else…That summer I returned for Elbrus via south route and on descend to about 4000m.(Diesel hut)I have something like diplopia(double vision)and was very hard to stay hard ot the terrain,was like drunk somekind…lost my equilibrium and on the base on 4000m., everything was ok.That was only on descent from the summit,not previosu days with acclimatization and etc.Before 2 years the same thing happen on mount Kazbek,despite it’s lower and only 5000m.high.Before 3 years I was on travers via 3 peaks on Montblanc massif,but there were nothing happen,no symptoms…I can’;t understand what’s the reason,i go a few clinics and eye sceners,cause i’ve blunt eye trauma till i was child and problem in my left eye.Some people tell me that this can be the reason,but my 2 eyes are with equal indicators,as to sceners and doctors.I’m in good shape at all and not feeling any kind of another alltitude sickness ever,except that with diplopia,lost equilibrium,feel like drunken at all,very hard descending at all…Please,can you give me the clue,some information,medicaments or what you can to help me?Thanks a lot and best regards

Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Keymaster
    Steve House on #6735


    I think the most likely explanation is the high altitude illness know as Cerebral Edema, swelling of the brain. The classic field test for this (not always possible when climbing) is to stand with your arms reaching out to both sides, then close your eyes, and touch your nose. The reason this is a good test is that the motor cortex of the brain is the first thing that is affected by the swelling of the brain. It starts to not work well when it is squeezed. The vision center is also sensitive, but usually balance is the first to go. As you describe that you felt ‘drunk’. This is the classic description. I suggest for any peak above 5,000m you add some extra time for your acclimatization. Everyone acclimatizes at a slightly different rate. You are learning what you yourself can do. Elbrus is very easy to ascend too quickly. Many people have these problems there. It is also making sense that the symptoms disappear at 4,000m. You descended and so the brain swelling (Cerebral Edema) was reversed.

    Good luck and climb a bit more slowly to high altitude next time and I think you will be fine.

    Steve House

    svetlyo_svetlyo on #6779

    Thanks a lot!
    So,there is nothing more I can do(medication or anything else)to prevent that?Is it really mortal and how much time I have if in future be in the same condition or even worse?If I can’t descent too far or sleep in high altitude,or can’t understand the signs of that ,,swelling”?What’s the best signs of proper and good aclimatization?Thanks one more time
    Svetoslav Kazakov

    alternativesurfer on #6788


    Look into: Diamox

    However this is only a supplement and won’t protect you like proper acclimation.

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