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Altitude sickness prevention meds
With positive draw I will be hunting above timberline for mule deer in CO. Had intended to get preventive meds. I'm 70 and live at about 4K. Intend to go down about a week early and take it easy for a few days. Told the kid going with, (he's 55) to look in to it and his doctor thought the side effects could be worse that actual sickness.
This is the first I've heard about this and will use the google to check it out but has anyone here experienced this?
what were the side effects he spoke of that you are asking about?
Don't know and will see if he told my buddy. Don't think so since the doc said he would look into it. Hard for me to imagine since alt sickness can be extremely dangerous.
I've never taken them, but a couple hunting partners have taken Diamox for high elevation hunt in CO. They said that it messed with their appetites and taste buds, so they stopped taking it.
As mentioned, take it easy! Also, drink gobs of liquids. I spent lots of time last year at 12 to 14,000' and took super deep breaths all the time I was up there...even when not active. I continually reminded myself to take deep breaths until it finally became 2nd nature. It seemed to help. Altitude sickness isn't fun! Horrible headaches and possibly throwing up! The only real cure is to go back down the mountain!
Common side effects of acetazolamide include: dizziness, lightheadedness, and. an increased amount of urine, especially during the first few days as your body adjusts to the medication. Other side effects of acetazolamide include blurred vision, dry mouth, drowsiness, loss of appetite, changes in the sense of taste, More items... Common Side Effects of Acetazolamide Tablets (Acetazolamide ... https://www.rxlist.com/acetazolamide-side-effects-drug-center.htm
Probably should have started with this. I think I could live with this, especially since I'll be there early. One of the advantages of being retired.
On my Utah trip, besides getting in shape and getting there several days ahead of time to acclimate, I used WA Altitude and did just fine...
I will get occasional tingling in my fingers and carbonated beverages taste weird. After 3 days at elevation, I quit taking it.
I used it and it worked well for me. I have made 7 elk hunting trips and always would end up with a bad headache and upset stomach that would take me out on about day 2 of the hunt and I did train hard but only live at 1K. The last two trips I have used it. Cant remember the name of the med but I think its the same stuff. I still had symptoms but they were very mild compared to previous trips. Remember they have to list all know side affects even if they rarely happen.
Great for short term (72 hr) acute glaucoma........lots of side effects for chronic glaucoma.......even greater considerations for altitude sickness prevention......Bowsite/Google doesn't cut it,talk to your Doctor
First of all, ignore what others experience. Possible side effects are just that - possible. They are different, and to different degrees, for each person. If you know you have issues at altitude, I would take it. Just as a precaution? Not so sure. Unless you have a significant reaction to acetazolamide, the side effects are much less than getting AMS. And if you do get altitude sickness, and the degree of AMS varies widely also, the ONLY remedy is to descend. Starting the drug once you're suffering, won't help. And living at altitude isn't always the answer, nor is trying to acclimatize. That MAY help, as might some other suggestions. But some people are just more prone to it than others. And it can be variable. Sometimes I have issues, and sometimes not.
I occasionally have issues with altitude above 10,000' - 11,000' even though I live at 7500'. As a precaution, I have taken acetazolamide on occasion. Like midwest, I had some minor tingling in my fingers and a metallic taste. Neither is as bad as AMS - which can also be deadly if you try to "gut it out".
I usually take Diamox. Feet, hands, and lips and feel tingling. Anything carbonated tastes like pennies. I only take it for a few days so no big deal. To me it’s well worth it not to get a severe headache the first 12 hours I’m at elevation.
Like the others have said. Lots of water. Take it easy for the first few days. Try to take short excursions to higher altitude, slowly increasing altitude and time spent there. Always sleep lower than your excursions. Wilderness athlete “Altitude Advantage does help some people. I used it in Nepal. 3 peaks over 20k and one to 26,000 ft and it helped me.
I used to take Diamox too and had the common side effects mentioned above. Then I started taking the natural supplements to prevent altitude sickness and they have worked great for me. The one I normally take is Altitude Adjustment. Comes in 3 day packs for a bout $5. Two packs (6 days is all I need). Start the day you leave home.
http://www.altitudeadjustment.com/products/altitude_adjustment The company is based in Colorado, and no I don't own stock in it! :=)
A lot of out-of-staters coming to Colo aren't aware of how dry it is here. One of the biggest problems people face hunting Colo is obviously the elevation gain but just as serious is dryness. I would suggest drinking way more water than you are used to! That alone will help as much as anything! I usually tank myself up with water prior to leaving my truck and are constantly drinking water every hour or so on hikes at high elevation. It's always a pain in the rear hauling extra water but definitely worth it! That plus taking super deep breaths "all the time" even while resting helps me a lot!
+1 Doesn't matter what else you do. Drink, drink again, and drink some more. Stay away from alcohol and drinks with caffeine for the first few days and that will help too.
There is no cure for altitude sickness. You can get it even if you live in Colorado like I do. You can get it no matter how many times you’ve been above timberline. Like mentioned above, dehydration can help prevent getting it but that’s not the whole story. An ear infection can bring it on. Your metabolic rate can also have an effect. It’s to the severity of the sickness that prompts what actions are open to you. You can be 90 or 16. There’s no age descrimination that I have personally onserved. The first time I got it I was 15. Didn’t get it again until I was a few hundred yards from summitting Mt McKinnley. Headache hit me all at once like a brick.
Rob in VT encapsulated my experience. It does make you pee more too.
I live where we have single digit relative humidity in July and there is no doubt it's easy to dry out. Will have spent a few days at 7K sw of Rawlins so I'll be stepping up in altitude. Thanks for the advice.
And it makes Zero difference how good of shape you are in. I had problems when I was young and in great shape!
Also, another thing to have in your med kit: Rolaids/ Tums, or your other favorite antacid. Some part of the altitude process causes your blood to be too acidic and taking 3-4 rolaids multiple times a day can help with the symptoms. That is all my daughter has to take.
There used to be a guy that gave talks at the Colo bighorn/mtn goat orientation in regard to altitude sickness. Similar to Txhunter, he advised eating a bunch of Rolaids.
I've spent a lot of time above 12000 feet over the years and have been fortunate to get pretty bad altitude sickness only just once. The 1 time it happened is when I forgot something at my truck and ran all the way to my truck and back. It likely happened because I over-exerted myself in such a short period of time. It's a lot wiser to take your time and not over-do things even if you think you are acclimated at high elevation.
Another recommendation is to watch closing up your tent tight at night or during rainstorm/snowstorms. You may wake up with a giant migrane! It's better having a little circulation. You will likely use more of the available oxygen....especially when inside tight spaces without fresh air. Once I had a cooking stove's flame burn out because of lack of O2! Not a good thing!
I just do a Ibuprofen regiment before and during the trip. I have to ask where did you hear about the "Tums" theory? The reason the Diamox helps with altitude sickness is it acidifies your blood....that`s what HELPS your body absorb more o`s. That`s why you pee so much, it`s a diuretic that flushes water out of your body leaving the Urea acid. You don`t want to neutralize the acid in your blood, that`s what Diamox is supposed to do.
I've only hunted high altitude (12,000'+) once in my life. My doctor refused to prescribe Diamox...and did not provide much of an explanation. First couple of days, I experienced the rapid heartbeat and mild headaches. Believe it or not, Rolaids actually seemed to help the headaches. After those first couple of days, the headaches stopped and I slept better at night.
Headed back to the high country in August. Planning to get there a couple days prior to the season opener this time. Seriously considering using Altitude Advantage from Wilderness Athlete in lieu of Diamox. Sounds like it has worked for some folks on this thread. Hoping the extra days on the front end make a big difference.
I would recommend Diamox, as some above have. The side effects were very minimal for me and benefits were great. My biggest problem at high altitude is being able to sleep well and having headaches at night that make my head fell like it's going to explode. The Diamox eliminated both these problems, even at above 15,000 in Peru.
I mentioned Diamox for preventing AMS to my doctor years ago during my annual physical and asked for a prescription. He took the time to do a little research then happily wrote it up. Now, every year at my physical, he asks if I need a refill.
As a physician who first experienced AMS several years ago, I researched various treatments and preventative remedies along the way. It disturbs me to see all the "advice" given by those who apparently stayed at a Holiday Inn last night which can be downright dangerous.
Here are some facts about AMS:
AMS can affect ANYONE. It doesn't matter if you're in shape, out of shape, or somewhere in between. In fact, some believe people who are in better shape are more prone to symptoms. It also doesn't matter if you've never experienced AMS before. Anyone can get AMS at anytime.
AMS comes in varying severity and CAN KILL if not treated when severe. There are many palliative remedies but the only "cure" is to return to lower altitude.
Herbal remedies and supplements have not been proven but I have tried some with unqualified success. The problem is that I don't get AMS every time I go to altitude and there are many factors that contribute to the severity of symptoms(elevation, speed of ascent, traveling back down to lower elevations at end of day, etc) Therefore, I don't have anything more than anecdotal experience so far in a couple trials to know whether it was the supplement that worked or if I simply didn't experience AMS that trip due to the other circumstances.
The primary manifestations of AMS are pulmonary edema and cerebral edema. There are many hypotheses as to what causes these, including hypoxia-mediated alkalosis, but the true mechanism remains unknown or poorly understood.
Diamox(acetazolamide) does help in the amelioration of AMS. It will not "cure" it and should not be relied on solely as the only true "cure" is a return to lower altitude and, in severe cases, Oxygen. The amount of Diamox needed to ameliorate symptoms can vary. Some, like me, can get by with just a few doses near the beginning of ascent to altitude. I always carry it and only take it if I begin experiencing symptoms. Usually, I can get by taking it for just a couple days but some may need to take it for a longer time.
The mechanism of action of Diamox and how it prevents AMS are still not entirely understood. It is currently thought to be multi-factorial, including reversal of the metabolic alkalosis, Carotid Body inhibition, increased minute-ventilation and DIURESIS. At the risk of boring people, I won't go into details on how all this happens at a cellular or physiological level. I point it out though to emphasize one major point--DO NOT LISTEN TO ALL THE "EXPERTS" TELLING YOU TO DRINK TONS OF WATER AND HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE!! This is FALSE! Pulmonary and cerebral edema are caused by increased intravascular vs intracellular oncotic pressure. "Hyperhydrating" only exacerbates this and can make your symptoms worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to purposely dehydrate yourself, but drinking excess water can make the situation worse. Staying "properly" hydrated is key and, in this case, "properly" is actually a state of underhydration. This is why Diamox helps. It is a diuretic which reduces intravascular volume and pressure leading to transfer of fluid of of the lung/brain tissue back in the vessels where it can be excreted. When hydrating at altitude, one is better off drinking electrolyte replacement drinks (Gatorade, etc) rather than pure water as they help keep the fluid intravascular.
"Acute mountain sickness, antacids, and ventilation during rapid, active ascent of Mount Rainier. Roach RC, Larson EB, Hornbein TF, Houston CS, Bartlett S, Hardesty J, Johnson D, Perkins M. Abstract A double-blind randomized study of 45 climbers on Mt. Rainier was conducted to test the effectiveness of antacids in preventing acute mountain sickness. All 45 climbed to 3353 m, and 31 continued to the summit. Ten climbers listed acute mountain sickness as the reason for not attaining the summit. Of symptoms monitored throughout the climb, neither headache, nausea, dizziness, pounding heart, nor shortness of breath differed in severity between antacid-treated and placebo-treated groups. In both groups vital capacity decreased significantly with ascent (p less than 0.05), while peak flow (p less than 0.005) and minute ventilation (p less than 0.001) increased significantly. The 7 climbers with the most severe AMS symptom scores above 4000 m had significantly lower peak flow at sea level prior to ascent compared with the other 25 climbers who completed sea level tests (p less than 0.005). The results of this study fail to document efficacy for antacid use for the prevention of acute mountain sickness."
"Antacids may help with nausea, but do not help with acclimatization. There is the occasional misconception that antacids have some impact on acclimatization, presumably due to confusion between blood acidity (which is related to acclimatization) and stomach acidity (which is not)."
Hmm. Maybe I should have researched it more. I heard the antacids treatment years ago and my daughter had nausea as a symptom and the antacids works for her. Maybe that is all it does? Will do a little more research
I get what would be considered the mildest form of Altitude sickness: Pounding heart, headaches, insomnia, shortness of breath. Never had to go lower due to symptoms but they are aggravating.
I can also only talk from my experience and that of my wife who has the same symptoms that I do, mild but annoying.
We both used Diamox for years, but got tired of the side effects (nasty sodas taste, frequent urination, tingling of extremities). BUT IT WORKED. Then enter the herbal supplements. I have tried both altitude advantage and altitude adjustment and both seem to work, but for some reason I tend to use altitude adjustment, maybe due to the company being in Colorado? Both work for us.
For probably 5 years, I took both the supplement but kept Diamox in my pack (just in case), but neither of us ever had any issues just taking the supplements, so I stopped even taking the Diamox with me. Your results may vary.
Personally, if I was you, I would still carry Diamox with me. It's a relatively easy "insurance policy" that can save one's hunt/trip. I generally take measures to avoid taking the Diamox as well(staying at 5000-6000' for one night before ascending beyond 9000, herbal supplements, etc) but I still carry Diamox with me and have had to resort to taking just a few doses sometimes when my symptoms got uncomfortable. Just because you are experiencing the mildest form now does NOT mean that you will never experience a more severe bout of it. There's nothing worse than feeling like crap on a hunt or having to descend back down out of the mountains because you didn't carry a bottle of Diamox just in case.
I hear you, never hurts to have an insurance policy, but I have gone to the high country at least twice yearly for at least the last 15 years with no problems just using the supplements. That is summer hiking, fall hunting, and winter skiing. For me the they work. But everyone is different.
And just because we call them supplements or nutraceuticals, doesn't mean that don't have a drug like effect on our bodies. After all, many "natural" compounds have become the basis for drugs, both good and bad. At least in my body, the compounds in Altitude adjustment fix my issues with altitude as well as Diamox without the side effects, so I will stick with them. There is some evidence that the Ginseng and/or Ginko Beloba may have some part in helping with altitude. However, if I ever decide to go to Peru and go really high, you can bet I will have some Diamox with me.
What is laughable is people who say: "It is all natural, so it can't hurt you and has no side effects" LOL. Try eating an Oleander bush leaf and see if that statement is true. 1 leaf can kill a small child. 20 can kill a horse.
What is the normal dose? I pick up my script tomorrow but the Dr said twice a day 2 pills each time. She gave me enough for the entire 12 days plus 1 before I leave. Guess I will find out more tomorrow.
I've only ever taken it starting about 24 hrs. before I leave, then for 3 days after I arrive.
1 tab, twice a day. Mine is the generic Acetazolamide, 250 mg.
My wife has ams symptoms every time we go to the mountains and we live at almost 5000 feet. This year she started taking the mtn ops altitude supplement a couple days before our trips and then continued through the trips and did fine for the first times in her life.
Another factor in AMS is sleeping at altitude. Return to the lowest altitude possible to sleep.
One side effect is similar to sleep apnea.
If you use a machine at night, definitely take it with you. Some even get a portable machine if they don’t have sleep apnea. as it helps with proper inspiration.
I don’t have apnea, but At extreme altitudes I have had “Chain Stokes” and that really lowers your O2 intake.
Chene- Stokes doesn’t usually hit me until extended stays and sleeping above 18,000 ft.
Don Thomas did an excellent article on this several issues ago in 'Traditional Bowhunter' - worth seeking out. (Thomas is a longtime bowhunter and physician.)
Don Thomas' article at my link...
Just checked my script and they are 250 mg pills. Take 2 (500 mg) by mouth 2 times per day. Thats a 1000 mg per day. My buddy just got a script for the same meds but different Dr and his are 125 mg but he is only supposed to take 1 pill 2 times per day. I am sure neither of our Dr ever prescribed this for altitude here in PA but do know my Dr knew what it was and said it is common for other issues.
Pretty good article. Hopefully, people are starting to recognize this is not just a "get-in-shape and stay hydrated" prevention as neither of those are the case. AMS can strike ANYONE, despite how healthy you are. As for the Diamoz(acetazolamide), 1000mg/day is probably excessive. I find I can get by with much less than that, sometimes just 250mg/day and I don't get all the side-effects. Everyone is different and I suggest experimenting with it. Continue to taper down the dose until you begin experiencing symptoms again. I generally carry the Diamox with me anytime I'm gonna be above 7000'. If I start experiencing symptoms, I'll start with 250mg and that usually alleviates it. I oftentimes only need to take it for a couple days as well until I become more acclimated. As I said though, everyone is different and letting it get out of control can be not only miserable but deadly if left untreated.
I found "typical" levels as any where from 250 mg to 1000 mg per day in different research articles. I probably will start off with 500 mg and see how the side effects are and if none stay at that for a few days. If the side effects are worse will drop down to 250 mg.
huntabsarokee , carbonated drinks will taste super weird. If you absolutely have to have pop or beer every day, you're probably going to hate the stuff. The only other side affects I felt were occasional tingling of my fingers, that was it at 500 mg/day.
Had this cut our elk hunt short last year. One of the members of the group got it and we had to leave. Only one vehicle so all of us had to go. Dr. in town said they air lift hunters out of the area every year due to this and them trying to gut it out. Nothing to mess with. My buddy had major headache and nausea. As soon as we got down to lower elevation he started to feel better.
Alcohol is not good if you have issues with altitude. Stay away from it for the first few days until you are aclimatized.
Midwest is right. I didn't know about the taste thing. I took it once before a high hunt. Stopped at a convenient store and bought a bottle of Mt. Dew. WOW, that was disgusting.
It makes ANY carbonated beverage takes disgusting.