Physical Effects

Physiological Symptoms
of Altitude Sickness

While air is comprised of several gases, including oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, oxygen is most important for survival. You’ll find it easy to breathe at sea level, which has the most oxygen, but at higher elevations you may feel like you are gasping for air or struggling to breathe.


headBrain swelling may develop due to the buildup of fluids and reduced blood flow to the brain. Depending on the individual, this can begin to happen at altitudes as low as a mile high, 5,280 feet. As a person ascends to higher elevations, between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, this brain swelling may likely cause cerebral edema, headache, fatigue, confusion or delirium, memory loss, and loss of balance.

At extreme altitudes, the buildup of fluids can lead to loss of consciousness, requiring immediate medical attention.

Heart and Circulation

heartAt high altitudes, people complain of “dry air”. This is caused by a decrease in the relative humidity in the air. Because of low oxygen and low humidity, the breathing rate will increase, causing a rapid loss of moisture in the body. It is vital to consume more water than usual throughout your stay at high altitude.

Fluid loss, due to frequent urination, causes the blood to congeal and clot more easily, which then decreases the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, sudden acute headaches, stroke, and paralysis may occur. The heart will work harder in an attempt to deliver oxygen-deficient blood throughout the body, but this can cause the organs, including the heart, to back up with the thickened blood, causing heart attack or failure.


lungsBecause the blood is oxygen-deficient at higher altitudes, the lungs struggle for oxygen, leading to shortness of breath and an increased breath rate.

Symptoms of pulmonary edema, or the seepage of clear fluids from the blood into the oxygen-exchanging sacks of the lungs, can occur at altitudes as low as 6,000 feet. These symptoms can become more pronounced at higher altitudes, and can lead to acute pulmonary edema. Common complaints at high altitude include upper respiratory infections, and persistent dry cough, caused by the body’s loss of fluids.

Altigen™ can optimize oxygen efficiency and reduce swelling of the brain at any altitude, but it has not been formulated to counteract the kind of severe pulmonary and cerebral edema that occurs at “very high” and “extreme high” altitudes.


bladderUrinary frequency increases at altitudes of 10,000 feet and higher, which can result in a two percent loss in body weight. The body’s need to urinate is a good sign that altitude adjustment is imminent. It is important to replenish the body’s fluids when at high altitude.


handWhen venturing to altitudes above 15,000 feet, the face, hands, ankles and feet may retain fluids and become swollen.


Oxygen deficiency at extreme high altitudes can cause cyanosis, or a bluish skin tint. The skin also suffers exposure to increased ultraviolet rays at higher altitudes. In particular, the properties of the rhodiola plant, which blooms above 10,000 feet in the Himalayan mountainsides and is the leading ingredient in Altigen, can guard the skin against radiation from the sun.*

* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.