As the summers , are here , most of you will be heading to the mountains for high altitude treks for surely , hence I decided to write about one of the mandatory medicine that usually people take in for high altitude adventures. Acetazolamide , or commonly known as Diamox is a pill that helps you to prevent Altitude mountain sickness ( AMS ). Mind it , it helps you to prevent , not CURE !!
Against a big misconception , let me burst the myth , Diamox cannot help you as immediate cure to AMS , while you are having it. Rather , it helps in the process of acclimatisation to start early and faster than it would be normally without the dosage. Now answering the three important questions -
1. How to take a Diamox ?
Essentially the 250mg pill should be taken after breakfast , starting from one day before the trek and can end once you are at the highest camp of your journey. One pill a day is enough , but make sure you have the pill everyday , around same time , for the next consecutive days. This way it serves its purpose best.
2. What are the side efffects?
Like any drug , Diamox , has its own side effects, which is better to be aware of , as there are loads of time , people panic due to the symptoms of side effects they go through and misinterpret it even for something really bad or fatal happening to the body, going into a chaos mode. I have heard people being so scared of the side effects , they opt for rescue or backing out of trips and treks , thinking they got a chronic disease. So here are the basic side effects you might face -
Fatigue , Drowsiness, bitter or metallic taste in toungue , tickling sensations if fingers , cheeks and nose , unusual or abnormal swelling sometimes of face , burps in tummy and excess fondness to go to pee.
But all of this are OKAY !!! So if you are facing any of it , do not panic it will pass over time.
3. How does it work ?
Well I can explain you in explicit science , or try to make you understand like basic school kids. I would opt for later, so you understand the basic working of the pill.
The pill increases the quantity of bicarbonate in urine , excreted from kidney, which acidifies the blood more. Now the body gets fooled by this , and in order to equal the acidification , it starts to remove excess CO2 from the blood and body by breathing deeper and faster. Once the CO2 is exhaled more , automatically the amount of oxygen in blood remains more now , helping the acclimatisation process. Hope this helped.
So now , You know how Diamox works , and how it should be implemented for the best of your body. But as a mountaineer , we do not advocate the use of any pill unneccesarily, hence , would ask you not to be afraid of high altitude just because so many people are affected. Natural prevention is always better. DRINKING 4 LITRES of water everyday , not only helps you as does diamox but also keeps you away from any sickness on trek. Thats my experience for four years of climbing and would always ask you to follow this.
Have a safe and happy trekking!! Join the adventures of high altitude with me if you have not yet planned anything!
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. Sharing you all those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust "