Altitude is the measurement of how high above sea level an object or location is. The higher the altitude, the lower the air pressure and oxygen levels, which can have significant effects on both humans and animals. For example, when mice are subjected to sustained, low levels of oxygen similar to those found at an altitude of 4,500 meters, their metabolism changes. This adaptation allows them to survive in high-altitude environments where oxygen is scarce.
Humans can also experience changes in their metabolism and physiology at high altitudes. At elevations above 2,500 meters, the body's oxygen levels drop, causing a condition called hypoxia. This can lead to symptoms like headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath. In extreme cases, hypoxia can be fatal.
Despite the potential dangers, some people seek out high-altitude environments for recreational purposes. For example, mountaineers climb to the tops of some of the world's highest peaks, like Mount Everest, which stands at 8,848 meters. These adventurers must acclimatize themselves to the low-oxygen environment, which can take weeks or even months.