Altitude sickness (also known as AMS) is a condition where the body has difficulty adjusting to lower oxygen pressure, and symptoms such as a headache and dizziness result.
- Occurs in high altitudes from 2500 metres (8200 ft) above sea level
- Serious symptoms can result in some cases
- Can be treated with prescription medicines
If you’re prone to altitude sickness, then it’s important to take the right precautions before you travel. Speak to your GP to find out more about treatment options.
Altitude sickness, otherwise referred to as mountain sickness or AMS, occurs when a person ascends a great height too quickly. Some people may experience mild symptoms from 8,000 feet (2,500 metres) and upwards, whereas more serious effects may be felt from 13,000 feet (4,000 metres). Milder symptoms include headaches, exhaustion, and nausea and vomiting, but more severe reactions to the condition might involve convulsions, and coughing up a pink frothy discharge.
The condition can affect anyone, with the speed of ascent being a bigger factor than the height climbed. When the warning signals are left unheeded, complications can result, and have the potential to be life-threatening. It is thought that roughly seven people a year die of the illness while climbing in Nepal.
Behind these symptoms, is a lack of oxygen in the blood. When the body does not have the chance to acclimatise to thinner air, lower oxygen levels lead to reduced acidity in the body, irregularities in the balance of electrolytes, and higher pressure in the lungs.
Diamox SR is not a licensed product for this specific condition. But doctors and expert trekking groups do advise Diamox for those looking to reduce the effects of altitude sickness. The medicine works by increasing the amount of alkali disposed of by the kidneys, and restoring the acidity levels in the blood. This encourages the body to ventilate itself more efficiently, and helps it to acclimatise.
Please note that we do not offer this medication through our service. Make an appointment with your GP if you want to find out more about treatment for altitude sickness.
Types of Treatment
Diamox SR is a drug made by Mercury Pharma. It is not licensed for the specific treatment of altitude sickness or AMS; but it is often prescribed off-label for this purpose.
How do they work?
- Diamox SR
This medicine is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, which means that it increases the amount of alkali excreted in the urine. This makes the blood more acidic, and causes the body to breathe in and out faster, increasing oxygen levels in the blood.
What are the side effects?
Diamox SR may cause headaches, dizziness or drowsiness. Refer to the respective product pages for more detailed information.
Can I take them with other medications?
Disclose any information regarding other treatments you are using during consultation, as they may affect your suitability for this medicine.
What’s the difference between the medications?
Diamox SR works by enabling the body to acclimatise to conditions more efficiently.
Should I take Diamox SR?
How susceptible you are to side effects, as well as your overall medical condition, may affect whether or not you can use this treatment.
Are there side effects?
Yes. Check the Diamox product page for more information.
Is it right for me?
To find out whether this medication can help you, make an appointment with your doctor in person. They will be able to help you find the right treatment and issue a prescription where required.
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