Changes in renal function were observed in 17 subjects during the course of a trek to high altitude. Comparison was made between these changes and the clinical assessment of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Periods of natriuresis occurred during ascent and descent, that during ascent being related to a fall in plasma aldosterone. Alterations in serum and urinary potassium suggested that potassium retention occurred during the ascent to altitude. No significant correlation occurred between changes in renal function and the severity of AMS before the illness being clinically apparent. When this was so, the severity of AMS correlated with a decreasing urine output, increasing positive fluid balance and a decreasing excretion of sodium and potassium; these changes were produced in part by a decrease in glomerular filtration rate.
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