Altitude sickness can affect kids just as much as adults. As a company with years of high-altitude experience, in this complete guide we'll share everything you need to know about altitude sickness in kids and the best tips to help.
Very few studies exist on altitude sickness in kids, but there's enough evidence indicating that generally mountain illness is very similar to what happens to adults. However, symptoms can be slightly more difficult to identify than in adults.
This concludes that the threat of altitude sickness in kids is very high and precautions should be taken.
One study done on children traveling the Tibetan plateau at 14,927 feet (4,550 m) discovered occurrence rate of altitude sickness at 34%.¹
Reportedly, this rate of altitude sickness was nearly identical to a study on 5355 adults. Proving that children are affected by altitude sickness in a very similar way when traveling to high altitudes.
Yes, altitude sickness is common in kids.
Evidence suggests, like the Tibetan study above, that rates of altitude sickness in children are very similar to adults.¹
Based on the general research and University of Michigan, altitude sickness can start at 6,000 feet.³ Based in Colorado, we see visitors commonly get altitude sickness even lower, where the altitude is 5,280 feet in Denver. At over 10,000 feet, up to 50% of people are reported to get altitude sickness.⁴
While treatment for acute mountain sickness has not been well studied in kids, research suggests that children may use paediatric doses of drugs found effective in adults for serious situations.
Oxygen and dexamethasone (0.15 mg/kg/dose 4 hourly) was given to children, reported by a 1998 research paper.¹
(This is not medical advice, only a journalistic write-up based on information available, and should be consulted by a doctor or medical professional.)
British Medical Journal reports guideline precautions for high altitude exposure in kids. As a conservative approach, these are the precautions recommended to take based on the age of the kid:
While conservative, these are good general guidelines to follow for altitude sickness kids.
Observing symptoms of altitude sickness in younger kids can be the most difficult. It's reported that symptoms such as nausea, headache, anorexia, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and dizziness are rarely reported in kids under 5 years old.
The BabyCenter recommends to take notice of any change in your child's behavior such as irritability, headache, dizziness, or fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, coughing, difficulty walking, and short of breath.⁵
Overall, these are the most common symptoms of altitude sickness:
Signs of altitude sickness usually develop within 6 to 24 hours upon arrival. To catch it early, pay very close attention to your kids for any signs of altitude sickness, even the most subtle symptoms.
While finding signs of altitude sickness symptoms in infants will be the hardest, you'll look for the same signs mentioned above for children in general.
A noteworthy warning is made by the British Medical Journal for infants (under 1 years old).¹ Long exposure to high elevations can put them at risk of subacute infantile mountain sickness. It's a severe syndrome of pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure, but only occurred in 1% of kids born between 9,842 - 16,404 feet (3000-5000 m).¹
High altitudes can be very concerning for parents, leading them to search how to help a child with altitude sickness. As a company with over 10 years of high altitude experience, we've learned the ins and outs of altitude sickness.
We'll share what you need to know to help your kid avoid altitude sickness with the expertise available. This can ensure a safer and more enjoyable trip for your whole family.
Here's 8 Tips How To Help Kids Avoid Altitude Sickness:
By following these eight proven tips, you can help avoid kids altitude sickness so they have a smoother journey to high-altitude destinations — including proper hydration, ascend slowly, drink tea, maximize sleep, limit elevation, take it easy, supplemental oxygen, and take antioxidants.
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1. Children In The Mountains - Altitude Sickness Kids
2. High-Altitude Illness - Children Family Doctor
3. Altitude Sickness University Of Michigan Health Service
4. High-altitude illness (including mountain sickness) (Beyond the Basics)
5. Altitude Sickness - How Can I Tell If My Child Has Altitude Sickness? Kids Altitude Sickness
6. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
7. The Effect Of Drinking Black Tea At High Altitude On Hydration Status And Mood
8. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
9. Supplemental oxygen and hyperbaric treatment at high altitude: cardiac and respiratory response
10. High altitude and oxidative stress
11. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
12. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione