High Altitude Effects on Breathing (Nursing)

by Jasmine Clark

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    00:01 So what happens when we travel to really high altitudes? So quick travel to altitudes above 2400 meters or 8,000 feet may trigger symptoms of something called acute mountain sickness.

    00:17 This happens because the atmospheric pressure and the partial pressure of oxygen levels are much lower at higher elevations.

    00:29 If you ascend too quickly from sea level to these higher elevations, you can experience symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.

    00:43 And then some severe cases, It can actually lead to brain damage or pulmonary edema.

    00:52 So our respiratory and hematopoietic adjustments are made when we make long-term moves to higher altitudes.

    01:01 So instead of moving abruptly, if we kind of go gradually or if we move to our high altitude for a long period of time our bodies will adjust to this lower oxygen.

    01:15 So at these higher altitudes chemoreceptors are going to become more responsive to the carbon dioxide levels when the oxygen levels decline.

    01:26 The substantial decline in oxygen is going to stimulate those peripheral chemoreceptors in the Carotid bodies and the aortic bodies, and it's going to result in an increase in the minute ventilation that will stabilize in a few days to a little higher than what you would have at sea level.

    01:47 Also, at high altitude there is going to be a lower than normal hemoglobin saturation of oxygen and this is just due to there being less oxygen available.

    01:59 So a lower partial pressure of oxygen.

    02:03 But not to worry, our bodies are able to respond to this decline and blood oxygen by stimulating the kidneys to accelerate the production of erythropoietin which then is going to stimulate the production of more red blood cells.

    02:20 This increase in the number of red blood cells is going to slowly provide a long-term compensation to this higher altitude and lower oxygen levels.

    02:33 And so sometimes athletes use this phenomenon in order to train for long races.

    02:41 So they will move or train in an area that is above sea level to stimulate their body to make more red blood cells.

    02:50 So when they go back to compete at sea level they have more oxygen available to perform that task.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture High Altitude Effects on Breathing (Nursing) by Jasmine Clark is from the course Respiratory System – Physiology (Nursing).

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Headaches
    2. Dizziness
    3. Lethal cerebral edema
    4. Hallucinations
    5. Hyperoxemia
    1. Lower-than-normal Hb saturation levels
    2. Rapid decreases in RBC numbers
    3. Increase in blood O2
    4. Decelerated production of erythropoietin

    Author of lecture High Altitude Effects on Breathing (Nursing)

     Jasmine Clark

    Jasmine Clark

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