Diamox - High Altitude Travel
The most common symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) are headache, GI symptoms (nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite), dizziness, fatigue and sleeping difficulties. The severity of the symptoms can vary depending on speed of ascent, the altitude attained (especially sleeping altitude), strenuous activity at high altitude, time spent at high altitude and previous history of AMS. AMS can progress to the more serious conditions of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) or High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). If you experience confusion, disorientation, lethargy or irrational behavior, (symptoms of HACE) or breathlessness, persistent cough, or frothy sputum (symptoms of HAPE), you should descend to a lower altitude and get medical attention immediately. HAPE and HACE are life threatening conditions that can progress to death in as little as 12 hours. If you are planning to climb to an altitude over 12,000 ft. you should learn more about high altitude survival that we can provide in this pamphlet.
Gradual ascent to high altitudes (above 8,000 ft) is the best and safest way to avoid acute mountain sickness. If gradual ascent and/or Diamox is used , this does not eliminate the need to descend if severe forms of high altitude sickness, HAPE or HACE should occur.
Other strategies to avoid AMS are; eat a high carbohydrate diet, reduce activity until you acclimatize, ascend gradually, and take a prophylactic drug, such as Diamox.
- You should NOT take Diamox if you are allergic to acetazolamide or other sulfa drugs.
- Do not take Diamox if you have kidney disease, liver disease or severe lung disease (COPD, CHF, Asthma, etc.).
- You must discuss the use of Diamox with your doctor if you have glaucoma or diabetes.
- Do not take this medicine if you are taking high dose aspirin therapy or have sodium or potassium disturbances.
Allergic reactions to Diamox can occur such as rash, fever and wheezing. If these symptoms occur, contact your doctor immediately. Urinary difficulties may occur and are a sign that the medication should be discontinued.
This medicine is also used as a diuretic and will increase the amount of urine produced. This is a normal side effect and does not mean that you should discontinue the medicine.
High altitude travel itself maybe hazardous for those with lung disease.
This medicine has been found to cause a number of side effects such as: headache, fatigue, allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, blood cell changes, high or low blood sugar, numbness and tingling of the extremities, urinary problems such as crystals in the urine. If you experience these symptoms, contact a doctor and discontinue the medicine.
Take one 500 mg controlled release capsule once a day or one 250 mg tablet every 12 hours. Begin this medicine 24 hours before arriving at high altitude and continue for 48 hours while at high altitude. You may continue taking Diamox up to 48 hours longer if your symptoms indicate the need for additional pills.
BE SURE TO READ ALL THE PRESCRIBING INFORMATION PROVIDED BY YOUR PHARMACY!