The term 'altitude sickness' covers a variety of symptoms that can result when a persons’ body is at a higher altitude and receives less oxygen than it is used to receiving.
The symptoms will show up anywhere from 8 to 36 hours after being in the higher altitude, and are very nonspecific. This makes it hard to determine in toddlers who cannot tell you how they feel. A toddler’s symptoms range from vomiting, to a cough or dizziness.
Most cases of altitude sickness are mild and referred to as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Moving your toddler to a lower altitude and gradually exposing him to the higher altitude will usually make the symptoms subside.
If however, the symptoms are more severe (difficulty breathing or turning blue); you should seek medical attention right away. The doctor will test your child’s oxygen level and tell if he has AMS or one of the more dangerous types of altitude sickness; High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). HACE will cause a build up of fluid in the brain, while HAPE will cause a build up of fluid in the lungs, both of which can be life threatening illnesses.
If you are concerned about altitude sickness, it’s best to expose your toddler to higher altitudes gradually and watch for signs that they are not feeling well. Additionally, you want to make sure that your toddler gets plenty of fluids.