Create a 6 page essay paper that discusses High altitude: effects on respiration and mountain sikness.
The normal barometric pressure is much higher! This means that at a higher altitude, your body must adjust to the lower barometric and oxygen pressure. Other conditions that the body needs to adjust to at high altitude are low air temperature, low humidity and high solar radiation intensity. Failure of the body to adjust to all these can cause fluid accumulation in the lungs and brain and if not treated immediately, this can lead to serious consequences (Curtis, 1995).
“For any given energy expenditure, the ventilation (VEBTPS. lmin-1) increases proportionately with altitude. Since barometric pressure decreases, there is less oxygen per volume of gas than at sea level” (Schoene, 2001). As the body receives lesser oxygen as you move higher and higher, the breathing rate must increase. This produces the extra oxygen content required and helps the body adjust to lower volumes of oxygen molecules. This inflow of oxygen by the lungs from the atmosphere and the corresponding outflow of oxygen into the atmosphere is referred to as pulmonary ventilation and hence, it tends to increase with altitude. If pulmonary ventilation is not increased in response to a decrease in the barometric and oxygen pressure, severe repercussions can result on human health. While pulmonary ventilation needs to increase, pulmonary diffusion is not greatly affected at altitude. It is mainly only affected with an increase in workload.
As people move to higher altitudes, they may develop a condition called Acute Mountain Sickness. AMS can affect any person, of any gender or age and is promoted by a number of causes but Erba et al. (2004) states that hypoxia seems to a play a major role and can impair the pulmonary gas exchange. This can worsen AMS because effective pulmonary gas exchange is essential at high altitude because of the inadequate oxygen supply available. However, there is still confusion as
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