Diamox for Altitude Sickness

Old Dec 17th, 2006, 04:52 PM
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Diamox for Altitude Sickness

In connection with our upcoming visit to Cusco + M.P., can anyone comment on the use of Diamox to prevent altitude sickness? If you did use it, was it recommended for, say , a teenager? Our own doctor was ambivalent. Thanks for any advice.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 05:19 PM
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I haven't used it myself --I haven't done the trek -- but my sister-in-law (50ish)did and so did my son & daugther-in law (late 20's, early 30's) -- from all accounts it worked great.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 06:22 AM
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We got an RX for Kilimanjaro last year and luckily tried it our BEFORE we trekked. We felt terrible using it (woke up feeling like a hangover and it's a diuretic). we therefore didn't bring it on our trek.

It may work great for you but be sure to try it first. More info on the drug can be had on the Africa forum, where many debate using it for a Kili trek.

Have a great trip!
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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Used it for Quito and the Andes last year. Really worked. My mistake was waiting until I got there and the altitude headache hit me immediately. Took a couple days for headache to go away after I started the diamox. Had no reaction except for slight tingling in my fingers. It is a diuretic so drink alot of water while on it but I am glad I had it. I wouldn't have wanted that headache the whole 8 days I was there because even though I took Advil it would not go away until the Diamox took hold.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 09:06 AM
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I used to be a mountaineer with a few 8000m peaks in my cv. I tried diamox, had a heart attack during the night, and haven't climbed a mountain since.
Be careful
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 03:32 PM
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I used it in Cuzco and on the Inca Trail. I was glad I used it, it causes tingling but otherwise no problems. You may also look into Ginkgo biloba which I also used to hedge my bets! I do not know about recommendations for teenagers.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2006, 07:39 AM
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I used it because I have high blood pressure and was advised by my doctor that I should not chew coca leaves, etc., because it increased the heart rate. I thought the product worked fine. I had some tingling in my fingers but it was really nothing. My wife found the coca leaves useless and had severe headaches, etc. Perhaps she didn't use it the right way. She used my pills and they worked pretty quickly and she was fine.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2006, 12:56 PM
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I tried it but didn't notice much effect from it. However, I also didn't notice that much effect from the high altitude in Cusco. The only thing I noticed was having to breathe more deeply when I first got off the plane. I thought the coca tea worked better.
Machu Picchu is much lower than Cusco so you probably won't notice much there. We stayed in the Sacred Valley for a few days instead of Cusco. This probably helped the acclimization.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2006, 01:47 PM
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I used it in Cusco/MP and thought it worked great. My wife didn't feel great from it - and I believe she stopped taking it after one pill. I kept taking it and the only side effect I had was that carbonated suff i.e. - coca cola - tasted funny. Not horrible or anything, just weird. Check the dosage amounts - I'm a lot bigger then my wife and we both took the same large pill. Friends we were with had smaller dosage pills.

I've been in Colorado and felt terrible from the altitude. So I was happy to not suffer from the high altitude in Cusco.

Whatever you decide water always helps a lot. Get your self super hydrated before you even land in Cusco.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2006, 08:01 PM
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My husband and I went to Peru a year and a half ago with our daughters, then 20 & 23. We all took Diamox - beginning before we left the States. None of us had an adverse reaction to the drug and my doctor felt it was perfectly safe for my kids. The only nuisance was that carbonated drinks tasted awful.

However, that being said, I don't know how efficacious it was. We all felt out of breath for the first few days, which we expected. We thought we would acclimatize by spending a few days in the Sacred Valley but didn't do enough homework. We stopped for hours at Chincherra on our first day and it was the highest spot on our trip, I believe.

While in the Sacred Valley my younger daughter was dreadfully ill from attitude sickness and I didn't feel great. We were OK in Machu Picchu but I felt like really sick (headache, aches, etc.) when we got to Cuzco. The second night there, we had oxygen pumped into our rooms and felt fabulous thereafter. Coincidence? I don't know.

My younger daughter and I both get migraines and thought we might be more sensitive to the change in altitude - just as we are regarding barometric changes - than my husband and older daughter.

My best advice would be to try the drug a few days before getting on a plane and if you all feel OK, to continue taking it. Unless you do altitude changes frequently (as do some skiers), you really won't know how you'll react until you get there. However, you will have the reassurance of at least trying a medication which has helped many people. And, drinking lots of water with it really is a must.


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Old Dec 23rd, 2006, 11:40 AM
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I've done the Inca Trail, the Santa Cruz trek in the Cordillera Blanca, and Kilimanjaro. For the Inca Trail and the Santa Cruz trek, I didn't bother with Diamox. I had done some hiking in the Sierra Nevada, and had been to 12,000 feet without too much difficulty. On the Inca Trail, I hit over 14,000 feet, and was definitely feeling the altitude. As much acclimitization as possible is recommended - spend a few nights in Cusco, at the very least.

I was fairly well acclimated by the time I did the Santa Cruz trek, and I hit over 15,000 feet on that trek. Again, I really felt the altitude, though I think I was trying to hike too fast. A slow, steady pace is best, I think.

For Kilimanjaro, I did not intend to use Diamox, but then I discovered everybody else on the climb was taking it. I didn't want to hold everybody back, so the guide ran into town and got me a bunch of the pills. I took the Diamox for my Kili trek, and it definitely made a difference. I was much stronger and breathing easier at 15,000 feet than I previously had on my treks in Peru.

I had the side effects discussed here - had to pee a lot, tingling fingers, and carbonated drinks tasted bad. One thing we noted was that the US doctors had prescribed too strong a dose for people. The side-effects were very strong. The guides had us cut our dosages in half (cutting the pills in two, in some cases), and we all did fine.

Do you have any experience at altitudes over 10,000 feet? It helps to know ahead of time how your body tends to react.
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 02:51 AM
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My son and I took it in Machu Picchu but my husband and two sons didn't. We were all fine, so who really knows? I think it really depends on how you personally react which of course you won't know until you get there. Because I didn't want to be dragging the chain, I took it, but again, I don't know whether I would have been OK without it. I think it ends up as one of those difficult decisions.
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 08:09 AM
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I did not take it in Tibet and suffered TERRIBLY!! I took it in Peru (Cusco and Lake T) and highly recommend it. I even shared my pills with some Australians who had none and who were suffering. Believe me, they were thankful that I had an excess supply. Don't leave home without it!
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 08:57 AM
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If you can wait until you get to Lima and buy SOROJCHE pills at any pharmacy, I like these. Start taking them immediately and you should be fine. Try and be very well rested, eat very lightly on the first day in Cusco and absolutely NO alchohol. Are you going on the Inca Trail?
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Old Dec 31st, 2006, 07:28 PM
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My husband, son and I travelled for 2 weeks in Peru in November. I was very concerned about the altitude, especially since we would be at over 13,000 ft on Lake Titicaca. After reseaching and speaking with several doctors, we decided NOT to go the diamox route. I am glad we didn't take this drug. I met travelers along the way who talked about their tingling extremities from it. We followed the advice of acclimating for a few days in the Sacred Valley before heading to Cusco and higher elevations. We moved a little slow at first, and were out of breath but we adjusted quickly and did quite fine, even at the 14,000 ft pass heading to Lake Titicaca.

Good luck.
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Old Jan 5th, 2007, 09:25 AM
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Altitude sickness is just your body ajusting to the high elevation. It takes time. If you are in good health & have done cardio at home you will be okay. Colorado, too has high elevation for some people that have to adjust to it. Diamox is a powerful drug...why would you want to take a drug that you have never taken before on your vacation in a 3rd world country?? Continue going to that doctor, he is a smart man(she/woman) who will not give in to perscription requests. My son & I travelled in Sept 06 to MP. The first day in Cuzco, I found that I got out of breath when climbing the steep walks to the hotel. So go slow...
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Old Jan 9th, 2007, 08:54 AM
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My 8 year old daughter and 15 year old son both get altitude sickness when we go skiing in CO. Finally, started giving them diamox. both of them were fine and never got headaches. I have a friend whose son ended up in the hospital bc of an adverse reaction. Maybe try taking it at home before you take it before a trip. It's impt. to take before you leave and continue for a certain amt. of days when you arrive at the high altitude.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 01:20 PM
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Altitude sickness is caused by your body adjusting to oxygen levels at higher elevations and given time, will generally clear up on its own.

As with most of us, if your vacation plans don't afford time to acclimatize naturally or you don't want to lose a day being sick, Diamox is certainly an option.

Be aware, while physical conditioning is always a good idea and can minimize shortness of breath, it does not alter your susceptibility to getting or not getting altitude sickness.

Unless you have a condition that contraindicates Diamox (allergies to sulfa drugs, liver or kidney disease, etc.), the side effects are typically mild and well tolorated by most people.

Don't let your trip be ruined, get and fill the prescription.
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Old Aug 13th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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My doctor prescribed 1 tablet a day of 500 mg of Diamox. This seems like a high dose. I am 5'2" and 120 lbs. Should I cut this in half? Take 1/2 a day, or 1 a day in two doses?
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Old Aug 13th, 2008, 01:45 PM
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www.highaltitudemedicine.com

Do endurance athletics at altitude.
Diamox allows me to hang on to oxygen
better works very well used properly.

500 mg is the usual dose

It is not generally adjusted

Do start it as you ascend

Do ascend as slowly as you can...
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