ACCLIMATIZATION TO HIGH ALTITUDES
Elevations below 5,000 feet have little noticeable effect on healthy people. However, at higher
elevations the atmospheric pressure is reduced, and the body tissues
get less oxygen. This means that people cannot work or exercise
as well at high altitudes. The limiting effects of high elevation
are often most pronounced in older people and persons with low
levels of fitness.
Due to acclimatization, the longer a person remains at high altitude, the better his performance
becomes. Generally, however, he will not perform as well as at
sea level and should not be expected to. For normal activities,
the time required to acclimatize depends largely on the altitude.
Before acclimatization is complete, people at high altitudes may suffer acute mountain sickness.
This includes such symptoms as headache, rapid pulse, nausea,
loss of appetite, and an inability to sleep. The primary treatment
is further acclimatization or returning to a lower altitude.
Once people are acclimatized to altitudes above 5,000 feet, deacclimatization will occur if
they spend 14 or more days at lower altitudes.