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#21663 - 02/28/12 04:53 AM High Altitude Sickness
Bob West Offline

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 812
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Here is a good article about altitude sickness, that every would-be Whitney summiter ought to read and heed:

Notice that being young and fit does not make you immune to altitude sickness. The older crowd seems less prone to getting sick. Too bad weekend warriors and day-trippers don't have time to acclimate properly.

Diamox seems to help, if taken according to the instructions, but it does make beer taste funny.

Any other input?

#21664 - 02/28/12 05:55 AM Re: High Altitude Sickness [Re: Bob West]
wbtravis Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1242
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
The first time this was a problem for me was my first trip to Mt. Whitney fifteen years ago. In 2000, after a 5 symptom masterpiece on White Mountain, I started using Diamox. I have had episodes as low as 7,500' and generally have no problems day hiking to SoCal's highest peaks.

Diamox should not be entered without some knowledge because your physician probably knows about as much as you about the drug usage as a prophylactic for AMS. It took me the better part of 5 years figuring out the right dosage FOR ME. Yet, I still have problems; such as, sleep deprivation and lack of appetite over 12,000'. It's not a cure all. Yes, beer and soda don't taste all that swell when you are dosing.

Everyone who is affected by this will have a different reaction. I have friends who have problems going up Baldy well before the summit.

#21668 - 02/28/12 04:05 PM Re: High Altitude Sickness [Re: wbtravis]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
A good diagnostic trial is to have the individual drink one liter of fluids and use a mild pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen (paracetamol). If symptoms resolve rapidly it is probably not AMS.

Good advice for AMS which I've found to be true. I'd add that people may be so nauseous they're unable to hold down water. Most respond well to tiny sips of a very dilute gatoraide solution -- a sip every 5 minutes or whatever they can do without puking.

Also interesting in the article is noting women don't seem to be as susceptible as men. I can't think of a single woman I've known for sure had HAPE in cases I've personally treated (though I don't always hear the outcome).

Good article. Thanks,

None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

#21669 - 02/28/12 04:29 PM Re: High Altitude Sickness [Re: Bob West]
Akichow Offline

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
"Diamox should not be given to persons with a history of sulfa or sulfphonamide allergy."

Like many things, the circumstances may be more complicated. I am allergic to, and cannot take, sulfa-containing antibiotics. At least so far, however, I have not had a reaction to Diamox. I have met people who HAVE had allergic reactions to Diamox, and who therefore cannot take it.

Like many things, these issues are individual, and require the consult of one's personal physician. However, if your personal physician is like mine (a good GP who does not specialize in altitude issues), you may end up helping to educate your doctor before he/she is in a position to help you make good decisions and is willing to give you the drugs you need (I brought pages from a well-respected wilderness medicine treatise to my appointment with my GP).

#21679 - 02/29/12 04:27 PM Re: High Altitude Sickness [Re: Akichow]
Ken Offline

Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
Akichow, the issue about sulfa is very misunderstood, and it is good of you to bring it up.

Allergies to sulfur in drugs is not caused by the presence of sulfur molecules, it is cause by a particular configuration of sulfur molecules.

Diamox has sulfur molecules, but not the configuration. It is similar to Lasix, a very common drug that we use routinely in sulfa-allergic people.

I always tell sulfa allergic people to take a dose of diamox at home before the trip, to see if their are any bad reactions. Never seen one.

the following article used to scare the crap out of people. However, there are real problems with it: They don't actually know what the patient reacted to. 30 years ago, we had a similar issue with a very high rate of penicillin allergy. It turned out that what a lot of people were allergic to was the binder that held the pill together.

#21702 - 03/01/12 04:55 PM Re: High Altitude Sickness [Re: Ken]
Jonishiker Offline

Registered: 02/06/12
Posts: 30
Loc: Socal,US
This is gross but it really happened to me my first time up half dome. I went with a group of in shape hikers but they went too fast for me, I kept up but half way up the cables I was sick as a dog. I warned those crowding me but yea,I I hurled violently ,funny how there was nobody behind me after that but I learned a strong lesson about pacing and proper water and calerie intake.
"If you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy."
-- Alvin Toffler

#21705 - 03/01/12 07:21 PM Re: High Altitude Sickness [Re: Jonishiker]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7386
Loc: Fresno, CA
> funny how there was nobody behind me after that..

So... did all those behind you slide off the cables because they instantly became to slippery? grin