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Acetazolamide

Acetazolamide tablets prevent and ease the symptoms of altitude sickness. For best results, start your course of Acetazolamide two days before ascending.

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What is Altitude Sickness?

Also called mountain sickness, altitude sickness refers to a group of symptoms that occur when you are climbing or walking to a higher elevation too quickly. Altitude sickness occurs because the body does not have enough time to adjust with abrupt changes in pressure and oxygen levels. It can affect anyone, no matter how fit or young.

3 Types of Altitude Sickness

There are three types of altitude sickness:

  1. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) - this is the most common form. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, muscle aches, and headaches.
  2. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) - a mountain sickness characterized by the buildup of fluid in the lungs. Can be life-threatening without proper medical help.
  3. High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) - This is altitude sickness in its most severe form. HACE is characterized by a buildup of fluid in the brain. Can be fatal without immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness

Anybody who goes to high altitudes (8,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level) without giving their body enough time to adjust to pressure and oxygen changes is at risk of altitude sickness. The faster the climb, the more likely you are going to suffer from mountain sickness. At times, difficult climbs which require more energy are also the culprit.

Below are altitude sickness symptoms that you need to be aware of depending on severity:

Mild Altitude Sickness

Mild altitude sickness provides short term discomfort and is usually characterized by fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, sleep problems, and loss of appetite. These altitude sickness symptoms often appear within 12 to 24 hours after arriving at a high altitude and go away within 24 to 48 hours.

Moderate Altitude Sickness

Moderate altitude sickness is often characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath, and weakness that continues to worsen over time. You can also experience loss of coordination, difficulty walking, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, and congestion in the chest. Altitude sickness tablets are extremely effective in solving these symptoms.

Severe Altitude Sickness

Severe altitude sickness involves confusion, fluid build up in the brain and/or lungs, shortness of breath, fatigue, and inability to walk. Other severe altitude sickness symptoms include pale or bluish skin tone and a cough. Seek help and go to the lower ground immediately when suffering these symptoms.

What Causes Altitude Sickness

The rapid change in altitude is the culprit behind mountain sickness. Without proper acclimatization, the body - no matter how fit - will have problems adapting to lower air pressure and oxygen levels.

If you live near the sea and travel to a high altitude, you are at a higher risk of getting altitude sickness. Problems with the heart or lungs as well as alcohol consumption may also interfere with acclimatization.

Although it doesn’t automatically make you more susceptible to altitude sickness, having certain illnesses like lung disease or diabetes may interfere with your body’s ability to adjust to higher elevations.

Other factors that increase your risk of mountain sickness include how high you climb and the elevation where you rest/sleep.

How Can I Treat Altitude Sickness?

It’s easier to treat mountain sickness when it's in the early stages. So, early diagnosis is important. The main treatment for any form of altitude sickness is descending to a lower altitude as soon and as safely as possible. Avoid climbing to higher elevations when you are already experiencing early altitude sickness symptoms.

You can take altitude sickness tablets like Acetazolamide to help reduce your symptoms, too. This treatment works best when taken before reaching a high altitude. You can purchase this treatment directly from Express Pharmacy.

For pulmonary oedema (HAPE) treatment may include:

  • Oxygen or breathing machine for severe cases
  • A phosphodiesterase inhibitor to increase blood flow to the lungs
  • Beta agonist inhalers to open your airways
  • High blood pressure medicine like nifedipine.

How Can I Prevent Altitude Sickness?

Proper acclimatization is the best way to prevent mountain sickness. You must give your body enough time to adjust before climbing to higher elevations. Below are some guidelines that you can follow:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs like sleeping pills, tranquillizers, and barbiturates
  • Climb high and sleep low. This means that if you climb more than 1,000 feet a day, descend to a lower altitude to sleep
  • Don’t climb more than 1000 feet a day when you are 10,000 feet above sea level
  • When you are at high altitudes, make sure that 70% of your energy comes from carbohydrates
  • Learn how to identify the early altitude sickness symptoms and immediately descend if you start developing them

During acclimatization, your body makes several adjustments so you can survive in higher altitudes without any problems. These include:

  • Deeper breathing
  • Making more red blood cells to increase your body’s capacity to carry oxygen
  • Releasing more oxygen from the blood to the body tissues
  • Higher pressure in the lung arteries so you can use more lung space for breathing

Talk to Our Experts

Do you have problems with altitude sickness? If so, benefit from our altitude sickness tablets or call us on 020 8123 0703 for more information and guidance.

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