Clinical Features of Acute High Altitude Pulmonary Edema

In this article, we will discuss the Clinical Features of Acute High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. So, let’s get started.

Clinical Features

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema develops within 2-4 days after arrival at high altitude (altitudes above 2700 m is defined as high altitude). The clinical manifestations usually start with 6-36 hours with symptoms suggestive of acute mountain sickness followed by dry mouth, incessant dry cough, breathlessness and headache. The cough later on becomes productive with frothy sputum which may be blood-stained (hemoptysis). The chest pain or discomfort, tachypnea and wheezing may also occur.

On examination, patient looks ill, tachypnea and tachycardia are present. BP is normal. There may be mild to moderate pyrexia. Central cyanosis occurs late. Optic fundi may show retinal hemorrhage in 10-15% of cases. Presence of papilloedema indicates associated cerebral edema. There are signs of noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, i.e. rales and rhonchi are heard on both lung fields.

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