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Rocky Mountain Region

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Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness may occur if you overexert at high elevations where oxygen supply is reduced. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath on exertion. Victims should stop and rest, breathe deeply, and move slowly to lower elevations.

Hyperventilation is caused by too rapid breathing and the decrease of carbon dioxide level in the blood, causing light-headedness and a cold feeling.

Calm the victim and have them relax and breathe into a glove, bag, or hat until normal breathing is restored.

Exhaustion occurs because the person may be pushing too hard. They may be embarrassed to ask the group to slow down. A good principle of backcountry travel is to take it slow, rest often, and drink and snack frequently to restore body energy.

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