Gastrointestinal problems at high altitude

Posted on March 30, 2016 • Filed under: Latin America Health, Latin America Travel

Anand AC, et al. Trop Gastroenterol. 2006 Oct-Dec.
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Abstract Gastrointestinal (GI) problems at high altitude are commonplace. The manifestations differ considerably in short-term visitors, long-term residents and native highlanders. Ethnic food habits and social norms also play a role in causing GI dysfuntion. Symptoms like nausea and vomiting are common manifestations of acute mountain sickness and are seen in 81.4% short-term visitors like mountaineers. Anorexia is almost universal and has a mutifactorial causation including effect of hormones like leptin and cholecystokinin and also due to hypoxia itself. Dyspepsia and flatulence are other common symptoms. Diarrhoea, often related to poor hygiene and sanitation is also frequently seen especially among the short-term visitors. Peptic ulceration and upper gastro-intestinal haemorrhage are reported to be common in native highlanders in the’ Peruvian Andes (9.6/10000 population per year) and also from Ladakh in India. A hig h incidence o f gastriccarcinoma is also reported, especially from Bolivia (138.2 cases per 10000 population per year). Megacolon and sigmoid volvulus are common lower GI disorders at high altitude. The latter accounted for 79% of all intestinal obstructions at a Bolivian hospital. Thrombosis of the portosystemic vascultature and splenic hematomas has been reported from India. Malnutrition is multifactorial and mainly due to hypoxia. Fat malabsorption is probably significant only at altitudes > 5000m. Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia was found to be four times more common in babies born at high altitude in Colorado than at sea level. Gall stones disease is common in Peruvian highlands. A high seroprevalence of antibodies to H pylori (95%) has been found in Ladakh but its correlation to the prevalence of upper gastro-intestinal disease has not been proven. Read Full Article

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