As medical care improves and life expectancy continues to rise in most developed countries, older people are able to enjoy high-altitude adventures later in life.

All visitors to high altitude (>2,500 m) are at risk of illness, notably Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which is usually a self-limiting illness presenting between 6 and 12 h of arrival at altitude. Common features include headache, fatigue and weakness, nausea and vomiting and poor sleep. Despite the increased prevalence of pre-existing medical conditions with age, the risk of AMS has been found to be lower in older people. More serious sequelae include high-altitude cerebral oedema and high-altitude pulmonary oedema that can be fatal if not recognised and treated promptly.

There is an abundance of literature on AMS and altitude-related pathology. However, there is little work specifically on Mt Kilimanjaro with its unique ascent profile.

Stokes, S., Kalson, N.S., Earl, M., Whitehead, A.G., Tyrell-Marsh, I., Frost, H., Davies, A. (2010). Age and ageing. 39, 2, 262-265.

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