Posted by drewski, 06-20-05
Does anyone know of a pill/medication that one can take to alleviate or, better yet, prevent altitude sickness? A friend of mine is heading down to Cuzco and asked - I wasn't aware of any.

Posted by teedub, 06-20-05
Acetazolamide. Many use it to effectively prevent/treat AMS. I swear by it when I'm going above 12K. It really has enabled me to do what I love to do.

Posted by DrJRO, 06-20-05
Yes, Acetazolamide (also called Diamox) is the most commonly used medication. It's sulfa-based, so as long as you're not Sulfa allergic. It's also a mild diuretic, so keeping hydrated is a must. Side effects also include tingling in the fingers/toes/lips and all carbonated beverages taste flat while you are on the medication. All of this goes away once you stop the medication. It's a prescription medication, so one should check with their doctor first.

Posted by Boon, 06-20-05
FYI, traveling from 7500 ft (Mammoth Lakes) to Cusco, I had no troubles, but any side trips we took out of there (Inca Trail, etc.) I definitely began feeling the affects of altitude. Be especially careful on bus rides, as they sometimes go over high mountain passes that can take you by surprise (picture children throwing up and crying on a crowded bus, while dealing with one's own headache... not fun). Its a beautiful city though, so enjoy your trip!

Posted by Richard, 06-20-05
For a non-prescription alternative, try the herbal supplement Ginkgo Biloba. If you search Google, you can find several studies showing it definitely helps.

Posted by DrJRO, 06-20-05
The Ginkgo Biloba is an option...although I'm not convinced of it's effectiveness. I tried it on Mt. Kilimanjaro, but once I got altitude sickness at about 13,000 feet, I started the Diamox and did great the rest of the hike. The ginko is supposed to help with circulation, so it may help with keeping fingers and toes warm. In the research I did (I gave a talk on altitude sickness at a medical conference), I didn't see many GOOD studies, although there is definitely some anecdotal reports about gingko's effectiveness.
FYI, there are also recent studies about Viagra helping with pulmonary edema. Probably not using it prophylactically, but if symptoms arise (no pun intended).
Happy hiking.

Posted by VersatileFred, 06-20-05
You can also check this thread from May: Diamox for Mountain Sickness
Orientation Notes for Whitney First Timers

Posted by + @ti2d, 06-21-05
I have tried ferrous sulfate. I figured the iron content would help the hemoglobin. I took 1/4 a pill (I think it had gazillion milligrams per pill) every other day for a 2 weeks prior to Whitney last year and this year. No side effects.

Posted by wingding, 06-23-05
Be careful with Diamox - it can help or it can make you sick. I tried it and got sick is a dog.

Posted by Ken, 06-23-05
Dr. Hackett is considered one of the top experts in this field in the world.

Wingding, I don't know the details, but that was common for people using the old dosing recommendations, under the new recommendations, it is quite rare.
I think it is best to take for a few days, long before a trip, so one knows what to expect, and how one's body reacts.

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