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Altitude Sickness Pills

Ora Aroha

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  • Added on: April 27th, 2006
Has anyone ever heard of Diamox? Anyone taken it or another pill for altitude sickness?

xoom

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  • Added on: April 27th, 2006
i took generic diamox, acetazolamide, for kili. the first dose was fine, but i started getting tingly everywhere. my fingers were tingly, my toes were semi-tingly but also kinda felt numb, and my face was extra-tingly. the last couple nights on the mountain, i would wake up with my lower lip swollen (which would go away in an hour or so).. but i have no idea if that was the diamox, or if it was because of the altitude. also, i peed a LOT! i'm not sure if diamox helped, since i haven't climbed kili without diamox, but i'm definately takign it again just in case.
Freedom lies in being bold.

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Court

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  • Added on: April 27th, 2006
Altitude Sickness and Side Effects of Diamox - my thoughts and reactions to it.
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Marisa

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  • Added on: April 27th, 2006
ah, the memories of acetazolamide!!! a lot of us took it on the kili trip. my travel clinic gave me such a low dosage of it, that i still got altitude sickness pretty bad one night. i had to bum some higher dosage pills off of other people for the extreme altitude pushes, which definitely worked. but the higher dosages made me extremely tingly..even the roof of my mouth tingled sometimes. i think that's all we talked about on the mountain!

I'm 100% positive that it helped me get up that damn mountain, as far as altitude sickness goes. I'm very prone to altitude sickness (usually around 8000-10000 ft, I get it bad for about a solid week). I wouldn't have made it up past camp 1 if it hadn't been for the drugs.

Flackattack

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  • Added on: May 1st, 2006
Had my final physical with health insurance today and my dr wrote me rx's for diamox (and cipro and larium-love the health plan :'). Hoping to leave in aug for oz, nz, sea, and nepal. Got up to a year and a half if i can stretch the budget. Anyway i see that despite the side effects xoom and marissa were reupping if they were going up again. How bout you court? I got 250mg pills. Did some people have the symptoms go away without pills? What percentage of people had no symptoms? Any idea if they will work after a year+ in my bag?
Marissa-
quote:
I'm very prone to altitude sickness
Care to share any more experiences? Anybody else? Thanks
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"Fare and be well now, let your life proceed by its own design." Bob Weir

halfnine

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  • Added on: May 1st, 2006
Diamox is very interesting subject. I have been above 10,000 ft well over 50 times and have never used it. And I will most likely continue to never use it. Anything that increases urination and decreases appetite already puts me at a disadvantage in most situations in which I am going to be at altitude. Now, if there is plenty of water available(not melting snow) and its a short trip than these issues would become negligible in my mind.

But, in addition, the big issue I have with diamox is that the side affects are similar to AMS. I adjust how hard I push it, how high I climb, and how low I sleep based on how significant my sensations of AMS are. If I get AMS type symptoms from Diamox I may be hanging out at lower altitudes when I don't need to be which at the end of the day will just reduce how fast I acclimate.

But, all that said, there is no doubt that Diamox will quicken the pace of acclimization especially when you are sleeping. The question is whether that gives you better odds than not taking it and listening to your body and adjusting accordingly. Now, if you are on a guided trek in Nepal and each day is planned out and you have no choice at which altitude you are going to be at day to day, I could see where diamox could come in handy.

elAdi

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  • Added on: May 1st, 2006
I completely second halfnine here. In my opinon diamox (and the likes) are supposed to be taken in case of emergency. I never used them, beside the fact that I've been over 6000 several times. It's all a matter of acclimization. You're simply not supposed to rush up a mountain. If you don't have time to climb it, don't do it and come back once you have more time. Listen to your body. If it doesn't like the ascend, go down a few hundret meters. Wait a day or two and try again. If it doesn't work, you're not supposed to climb the mountain. Diamox really only is, imo, if you didn't show any signs of altitude sickness while acclimatizing properly and suddenly you're hit hard with altitude sickness or b) if you try to go up serious mountain like Everest or K2 (over which we could have the philosophical discussion whether it's right for the human being to climb those mountains if we need medical aid to do it.).

If you go into high altitudes, bring diamox (or the likes), but don't take it as a prophylax. You're lying to your body.

Adrian
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xoom

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  • Added on: May 1st, 2006
well one of my concerns when i was thinking about taking diamox was one shared by many, that it shrouds the real symptoms of AMS. i talked to the travel nurse and she said that there's actually two kinds of altitude meds. i forgot the name of the other one, but it's that one which conceals the symptoms. the category that diamox is a part of, actually helps prevent the symptoms (increase your altitude tolerance, sotospeak). i know i'm not being clear enough-- it's been over a year since i spoke with her! but i do remember that it was a major concern of mine, and after she explained it to me, i didnt have any doubts about going with acetazolamide/diamox-- i wouldn't say that once you start taking diamox, you're 'lying to your body' right away. but that's only up to a certain point-- when we were talking, it was in teh context of walking up to 19000 ft. it would definately be a whole 'nother topic if i were saying i was climbing up 30000ft.

btw.. it might be handy to cut the diamox pills in half before youre up on the mountain. sometimes, people just want to take a little dose to help for a little bit, or increase a dose by 50% (like how i did for teh summit attempt).. cutting it at home and having it ready to go later on makes things a little easier (and when you're cold and out of breath at 15000ft, it makes it a LOT easier).
Freedom lies in being bold.

blog: http://sybaritestory.wordpress.com/

christina-in-brooklyn

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  • Added on: May 2nd, 2006
Boy, wish I'd read up on Diamox a little more before popping them... I also had the tingly sensation in my limbs.

One note is that you're not supposed to take Diamox if you're exposed to strong sunlight. I don't know why, but I ended up going off the Diamox & taking something the local pharmacy recommended when I was in Bolivia, because I was inundated with sunlight at the Salar de Uyuni & Copacabana. So I don't know if you're going to be in strong sun, but if you are maybe find a different medication.
"What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance." -- Elizabeth Alexander

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halfnine

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  • Added on: May 2nd, 2006
quote:
well one of my concerns when i was thinking about taking diamox was one shared by many, that it shrouds the real symptoms of AMS.


I just want to clarify something Xoom has said here based on my understanding of Diamox. There has been concerns that you could actually have AMS but not know it while taking Diamox. Like Xoom mentioned this isn't true. If you are having trouble with altitude you will feel it whether you are taking Diamox or not.

What is true, however, is that if you are taking Diamox the side affects of the drug can make can make you think you are suffering from AMS when you might actually not be.

Marisa

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  • Added on: May 2nd, 2006
flackattack..ask and you shall receive, here's my story Razz

i have genetics of sea level people, and i spent most of my life at 50 feet in elevation or below. the first time i went up to altitude was driving up to colorado -- started to feel woozy and ill nearing colorado springs (6035 ft), kept on driving, entered denver (5280 ft), still felt ill. (back then, i had not even heard of altitude sickness). ended up driving thru vail pass (10,600 ft), and spending the night in frisco (9,000 ft). when we finally checked into a motel in frisco, i puked my brains out badly. had no idea what was wrong with me (thought it was car sickness as we'd driven from amarillo, tx).

on that trip, i did some hiking in vail (8000-10000ish ft), and had to sit on every rock i found, which was every few feet. just thought i was extremely out of shape. i felt pretty crappy for a few days in vail, then we headed off to lower lands where i started to feel better.

years after the fact, when i was researching a trip to south america..is when i learned about altitude sickness, and that's what i had in colorado.

i flew into quito (9,300 ft) from austin (i'm now living at about 800 ft in elevation) a few years ago. i brought diamox (low dosage - 125 mg pills) with me, just in case. i was a little leary about taking it. plus, i still didn't fully understand altitude sickness...so i didn't take the pills. needless to say, i felt like complete shit for 6 full days (severe headaches, lethargy, lack of appetite). I did something stupid and went on a pretty tough hike for me at the time -- 6 hours ranging anywhere from about 8,000ish to 12,500 ft. It got the point where every step i took, it felt like my brain was shaking violently in my head. part of me would have rather died than hiked back to town (much of the hike by myself in the remote andes). when i finally got back to the lodge, i sat down for a long time, then had to run to the bathroom to puke my brains out...mostly water. it was pretty painful. but damn, now i know how it feels like and how my body reacts in altitude!

after the 6 days of pure hell, i was finally adjusted to the elevation, and was fine going up to 16,000 ft eventually on the trip.

i brought the diamox to kili, and i was planning on not taking it, but ended up giving in. i think if i had not taken it, i wouldn't have made it after the first day due to altitude sickness.

we were exposed to strong sunlight on kili (and the fact that i was on doxycylcen as well...), so i just used lots of high spf sunscreen.

another note...i was on diamox, and still got altitude sickness the 3rd night on the mountain (we went up to 14,700, i think). i puked my brains out, it was like hell on earth, and didn't think that i'd be able to push on. slept for the night, and felt okay in the morning.

it really comes down to a personal choice of taking it or not. i'd *rather* not take it. but after shelling out a lot of money for the trip..i said..hell, screw it...i want to make it up that damn mountain... but honestly, i'd much prefer to acclimatize without the meds.

Flackattack

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  • Added on: May 3rd, 2006
Thank you all for your input. Much appreciated.
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"Fare and be well now, let your life proceed by its own design." Bob Weir

nerokerr

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  • Added on: May 4th, 2006
I took some acetazolamide a couple times in Peru. I didn't think I'd need it, as I've been in the Rockies many times without any problems, but since I wasn't going to have much time to acclimatize, I took it to be safe. I did get a tingling in my fingers a couple times, but didn't realize it was attributed to the acetazolamide. I figured it was just the elevation itself, the fact that I was gripping my trekking poles, or that I was also taking some ephedrine to help open my airways... and ephedrine causes similar effects. I didn't have any other side effects, though... no swelling or extra peeing, but I also wasn't taking it as regularly as prescribed.

In all honesty, I really don't think I needed it at all, and stopped after a couple days, and never had any problems when I went higher. I was also chewing coca, though. But, as altitude sickness is a apparently more of a genetic thing, it's your call.

Gardkarlsen

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  • Added on: May 4th, 2006
Hi

Yes, I took a couple of Diamox when I went to Kilimanjaro a couple of years back (see my trip report http://gardkarlsen.com/kilimanjaro_index.htm) . If you plan to take them test them out in advance. In my case I had to go to the bathroom all the time...and it also influenced my taste buds :-)

Regards
Gard
Stavanger, Norway
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Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures



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