Magazine article Geographical

Travel Doctor. (Travel)

Magazine article Geographical

Travel Doctor. (Travel)

Article excerpt


I am going trekking in the Andes early in the new year, but had a problem with altitude sickness the last time I went. I am told there is a drug to combat this. What is it, and do you suggest I take it?

C Johns, London

The drug you refer to is Diamox, or acetazolamide by its generic name. It is usually used by people suffering from glaucoma, where the pressure in the eye increases, or in situations where the lungs become waterlogged with fluid, known as oedema.

Diamox helps reduce lung fluid build up, which is why it has been used to relieve acute mountain sickness (AMS). As oxygen levels drop with increased altitude, we respond by initially breathing faster and deeper, then the red cell numbers increase to carry more oxygen to the tissues. Diamox accelerates these processes and prevents fluid accumulation on the lungs.

AMS is a problem occurring above 2,000 metres. …

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