Mountain neurology

Pract Neurol. 2019 Oct;19(5):404-411. doi: 10.1136/practneurol-2017-001783. Epub 2019 Jun 8.


Mountain climbers may develop specific illnesses that largely depend on the altitude reached and the rate of ascent. The popularity of travel to high altitude destinations, extreme tourist activities and mountain climbing means that neurologists in low-altitude countries are increasingly likely to encounter neurological problems and disorders in people exposed to high altitude. Additionally, they may have to advise patients with pre-existing neurological conditions on the risks of ascent to altitude. This article focuses on neurological-related high-altitude illnesses: acute mountain sickness and high-altitude cerebral oedema, as well as high-altitude retinopathy and other neurological disorders. This overview combines current understood pathogenesis with the experience of managing altitude-related illness at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania, the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.

Keywords: acute mountain sickness; high-altitude cerebral oedema; high-altitude pulmonary oedema.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Altitude Sickness* / etiology
  • Altitude Sickness* / prevention & control
  • Altitude*
  • Animals
  • Brain Edema / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurology*
  • Tanzania
  • Travel