Swelling of the face and distal extremities is common at high altitude. Peripheral edema was reported in 18 percent of trekkers at 4200 m in Nepal and was twice as likely in women. It was often associated with AMS, but not necessarily. The presence of peripheral edema should raise suspicion of altitude illness and prompt a thorough examination for pulmonary and cerebral edema. The problem can be treated with diuretics, but if left untreated, it will resolve spontaneously with descent.
The mechanism is presumably similar to that of the fluid retention of AMS but with edema formation peripherally rather than in the brain and lung.
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