Written by Editorial Team
Altitude sickness in kids is fairly common. It occurs in children not acclimatized to breathing at high altitudes. It happens when the child does not get adequate oxygen to breathe easily at high peaks. Nowadays, mountains and high altitude places are frequented by parents who also take their kids along. But, they are unaware of the potential risks for children at high altitudes.
The symptoms of altitude sickness are difficult to identify in children below five years of age. Non-specific symptoms like lethargy, crying, irritability, and no interest in food are seen in them. Let’s find out more about altitude sickness in kids in this article.
In This Article
Altitude sickness occurs when you travel to a high elevated place (8000 feet or above the sea level). The sickness includes a combination of symptoms that show up when your body cannot take less oxygen than what it is used to. Those who live in the mountains can adjust to less oxygen. So, it is not tough for them to adjust there.
As you go high up in the mountain the air pressure decreases which makes it difficult to breathe and you may feel sick. Altitude sickness can happen to any age group person. But, some people are more vulnerable to it than others. And, while adults can easily tell if they are feeling unwell, altitude sickness in kids is just a little more difficult to identify.
Altitude sicknesses are of three types-
This is the most common type of altitude sickness and the mildest. The cause of this sickness is less oxygen in the atmosphere as the altitude increases. Though the percentage is the same atop mountains as the sea level. But, due to low air pressure, it gets difficult to drive the oxygen from the air to the lungs and bloodstream. A child may sometimes experience labored respiration.
This altitude sickness affects the lungs filling them with fluid. This medical emergency needs immediate attention. Though it is not severe, it can still cause death faster than other types of altitude sickness.
This altitude sickness causes swelling of the brain and is the most dangerous condition. It needs emergency care.
Usually, it is safe for kids to go to high altitude destinations. But, if their bodies are not used to adjusting to the low oxygen level, they suffer from high-altitude sickness. It is important to give some time to adapt to altitude-related changes. Your child may experience altitude sickness if there is not enough time to acclimatize to high altitudes.
Identifying altitude sickness in a child is difficult initially as the symptoms are nonspecific. They may appear after 8 to 36 hours after arriving at a high-altitude place. But, they can also show up as early as 1 or 2 hours after reaching an altitude. You may notice the following changes in your child’s behavior-
In case of severe conditions, the complexion of your child may turn blue or pale. They may also feel shortness of breath, cough, vomiting, or dehydration.
There are several ways to treat altitude sickness in kids. From home remedies to medicines, you can try any of the alternatives listed below to provide comfort to your child-
Not all children are affected by high altitudes, but some may have dizziness, shortness of breath, excessive thirst, poor appetite, disturbed sleep, headaches, and overall physical fatigue. Hence, follow a few tips to prevent altitude sickness in kids-
Altitude sickness in kids is difficult to recognize below five years of age. Avoid young kids to high altitude places, if possible. But, even if you have to travel with your child, take preventive steps. Those may lower the risk of altitude sickness in your kid. Also, consult your pediatrician for medicines before you travel with your kid to a high altitude destination.
It is generally safe for kids to visit high altitude places. Problems may arise if their bodies do not get acclimatized to the altitude. They may get sick and may not be able to tell. Parents need to keep a close watch on their kids if they are taking them to a high altitude place, and consult a doctor if they notice any uneasiness etc. in the kid.
Altitude sickness usually subsides once the body gets acclimatized to the high altitude. However, if you feel your kid is facing a hard time adjusting to the surroundings, it’s better to move to a lower altitude region. The symptoms may subside in a few days.
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