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A high-altitude job may lead to workers’ compensation injury

| Dec 11, 2017 | Workers' Compensation |

With the beautiful mountains in Colorado, traveling to high altitudes from lower ones can be a near daily event for some workers as well as visitors. For those having that work commute or condition, however, this kind of work-related reality may cause altitude sickness.

For instance, those working in mining may deal with it. However, it would seem even a service worker who commutes up a high mountain could be subject to it, and it may constitute an occupational illness. If a worker suffers from such occupational illness, he may find it to be an illness covered under Colorado’s workers’ compensation laws.

What altitude sickness is

According to WebMD, altitude sickness results from a drop in barometric pressure. This results in a decrease in available oxygen. For those who do not live at that high-altitude place, but only visit it, their bodies may not be able to adapt and adjust to the barometric change. This kind of sickness may start for those who travel above eight thousand feet.

Symptoms

Symptoms may vary but can include the following:

  • Fatigue or sleep issues
  • Diminished appetite
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting

These may only signify the most moderate form of altitude illness, known as Acute Mountain Sickness.

Deadly forms of Altitude Sickness

However, there are more serious forms of the illness. For instance, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema can be life threatening. It involves the lungs suffering an accumulation of fluid. Even more dangerous may be High Altitude Cerebral Edema, which includes excess fluids in the brain which also requires immediate medical attention.

Additional symptoms that may appear with more serious cases include the following:

  • Chest tightness or a cough productive of a light frothy substance
  • Severe headache immune to medication
  • Difficulty with walking or coordination or complete inability
  • Confusion
  • Coma

As noted by the United States’ National Center for Biotechnology Information, federal authorities recognize occupational forms of AMS and have sought to identify controllable risks to reduce the incidence of AMS.

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