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Dx Altitude Sickness Treatment:


Agreement is that the prevention and treatment of altitude sickness starts with a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor (Diamox®)is effective to alleviate symptoms. Diamox is the least expensive.

Altitude Sickness

The Merck Manual Home Edition states:
" Altitude diseases occur because of a lack of oxygen at high altitudes. Symptoms include headache, tiredness, irritability, and in more serious cases, shortness of breath, confusion, and even coma. Doctors diagnose altitude illness primarily based on the symptoms. Treatment includes rest, descending to a lower altitude, and sometimes drugs, extra oxygen, or both. People may prevent this disorder by ascending slowly and sometimes by taking drugs. As altitude increases, the atmospheric pressure decreases, thinning the air so that less oxygen is available. For example, compared with the air at sea level, the air at 19,000 feet (5,800 meters) contains only half the amount of oxygen. In Denver, which is located about 5,300 feet (1,615 meters) above sea level, the air contains 20% less oxygen. Most people can ascend to 5,000 to 6,500 feet (1,500 to 2,000 meters) in one day without problems, but about 20% who ascend to 8,000 feet (2,500 meters) and 40% who ascend to 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) develop some form of altitude illness."

Medications Used in Treatment:
1. Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors: acetazolamide/ Diamox® Sequels.
2. Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitor/ Alpha Agonist Combinations: Simbrinza®; brinzolamide/ bimonidine

Suggested Links:
*N.H.S. Choices

*[Editor]: The Cochrane Database review adds that "acetazolamide is effective for the prevention of acute mountain sickness but may be associated with paresthesias. Sumatriptan and gabapentin are beneficial but require further study".

Murdock adds that other options include "resting, dexamethasone and gingko biloba and slow ascent."

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