Episode 7: Altitude Illness

With Dr. Will Smith

Dr. Will Smith joins us to discuss the SMOG Altitude Illness guideline. COL Smith, MD, brings his decades of military and wilderness medicine experience to bear in a discussion of “mountain sickness.”  Altitude illnesses have a significant spectrum of symptoms and severity, and this episode’s conversation ranges from initial diagnosis to evacuation strategies. Keep the SMOG handy during this episode, and find more detailed information in the Wilderness Medical Society’s (WMS) Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Altitude Illness: 2019 Update. Additionally, our friends at Next Generation Combat Medic (NGCM) have an excellent summary of the issues in “High and Sick: Altitude Illness.” We’ve got a link to both the WMS CPG page and NGCM at dustoffmedicpodcast.com

There are a number of medications that are useful for treating altitude illness, but remember this key point from the WMS: “As with AMS and HACE, descent remains the single best treatment for HAPE.”

So, if you’re flying on a critical patient with suspected altitude illness, load, go, and get low!

This episode relates to TC 8-800, Table VI, task 081-833-0035 Initiate Treatment for Altitude Illness.

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