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 acclimatization 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 a day before the trek or before the high altitude ( i.e 9000 feet or 3000 metres) , 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. Having the pill when you are starting to get the symptoms of High altitude sickness, would not help at all.
2. What are the side efffects?
Like any drug , Diamox , has its own side effects, which is better to be aware of. Many a time , people panic due to the symptoms of side effects they go through, and misinterpret it for something bad or fatal happening to the body.
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 , afterall any external help to body will show other unnatural symptoms.
Feeling sleepy, bitter or metallic taste in tongue , tickling sensations on fingers / cheeks and nose , unusual or abnormal swelling sometimes of your 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 a common myth is Diamox increases oxygen. No, it does not. It is more a complex process how it makes your body ready for higher altitude faster.
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 faster. So do not say anymore , Diamox creates oxygen ! Please no !
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 unnecessarily, hence , would ask you not to be afraid of high altitude. Natural prevention is always better. DRINKING 3 - 4 LITRES of water everyday , not only helps you , but also keeps you away from any sickness on trek. As more water or liquid starts processing in the body, natural oxygen gets circulated helping you to acclimatize the same way, as Diamox does with its external mechanism. If water is something you are unable to drink at such quantity , go down on solid foods during your trek meals and intake more liquuids like DAL , TEA, COFFEE and Soup ! Also in take of liquid should be increased from the base camp itself. Drinking so much on the summit day would help you , as proposing to your ex, on their marriage day does.
Hope you got the basics of it ! Now go climb that godamn mountain !!
Have a safe and happy trekking!! Join the adventures of high altitude with me if you have not yet planned anything!
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with 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 to hit the road"