Altitude and Diamox

Posted by: Whitney Zone

Altitude and Diamox - 07/13/06 09:48 AM

Posted by Ken, 07-13-06
I'm prompted to write this, as I've seen posts by several people who got Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) on the mountain, took Diamox, continued climbing, and had a miserable time.

There is a fundamental flaw in this approach.

The effect of Diamox is to accelerate acclimatization. Taking it does NOT protect you from AMS, and does NOT diminish AMS symptoms.

So, if a person is ascending, and is getting AMS symptoms, they may or may not want to take Diamox. BUT THAT IS NOT THE PRIMARY TREATMENT!!

http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/safety/altitude.html

"If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude illness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease ("Don't go up until symptoms go down").
If symptoms increase, go down, down, down!"
-----------------
http://www.basecampmd.com/expguide/amsprev.shtml
"MYTH: acetazolamide will prevent AMS from worsening during ascent

"Acetazolamide DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST WORSENING AMS WITH CONTINUED ASCENT. It does not change Golden Rule II. Plenty of people have developed HAPE and HACE who believed this myth."

GOLDEN RULE I:
If you feel unwell at altitude it is altitude illness until proven otherwise.

GOLDEN RULE II:
Never ascend with symptoms of AMS.
-----------------
http://www.thebmc.co.uk/world/mm/mm1.htm

"If AMS symptoms (headaches) persist, you should certainly not ascend further, descend if you can"

" the only cure is to rest, become acclimatised to the lack of oxygen and if necessary descend. The most important treatment is not to go higher if one has symptoms"
------------------------------------------

So my point, and the point of all these authors, is that if you are having enough symptoms to consider Diamox, and you are actively hiking, your hike should be over for awhile.....NOT taking Diamox, and trudging upwards.

An appropriate usage, might be for a person with some headache on a multi day ascent, at TC, who will have overnite to acclimatize, where the Diamox will accelerate that process.

It is probably a useless thing, perhaps even a detrimental thing, on a dayhike climb of Whitney.....unless taken in advance.


Posted by bola, 07-13-06
more importantly

it makes the taste of beer taste like dogs breath

and any other type of carbonated beverage


Posted by California-Trailwalker, 07-13-06
VersatileFred,

You should add Ken's single post above to your accumulated wisdom and links in your "first timers" threads.

CaT


Posted by wbtravis5152, 07-13-06
Bola,

I always plan my Diamox usage to be able to drink a beer at the trailhead. ;-).

This is very good advice. A simpler way of saying is...do not take a headache higher.

I was doing wonderfully one time until ate something at 14,000' then I was miserable until I descended to 4,000'. Headache, nausea and malise. I had to stop every five minutes or so to rest while descending.
_________________________
Mt. Whitney and Eastern Sierra Blog
The Mt. Whitney Day Hike and Backpacking Page



Posted by bola, 07-13-06
I have always advised my grandsons to simply spend a couple of days enjoying the scenery at horseshoe meadows, 10,000 ft.
The beer tastes great and some of the cayotes actully look like one of my ex wives


Posted by JPR, 07-16-06
I have used Diamox a number of times and I think if used properly, it can be a good thing. Usually I'll pop a pill Friday night, while heading up to the mountains from L.A. I might take another Saturday morning while hiking up whatever mountain I am doing . I have found that for me, it has pretty much eliminated headaches and nausea associated with altitude sickness. However one big problem with Diamox is the constant need to take a pi$$, especially while trying to sleep at night. Because of this, I really haven't used it too much lately. Having a restless sleep and getting dehydrated isn't a good thing either. I guess bottom line is while it can be useful, Diamox is not a miracle cure.


Posted by Greaser, 07-13-06
This is my story:
On July 11th a group of 4 of us began the day hike from the portal close to 4am. I unfortunately did not sleep at all the night before...due to excitement and god knows what else. After losing the trail at Mirror Lake (we ended up going up the big rock boulders just under the trail), we arrived at Trail Camp at about 8am. We stopped at TC for about 45 min to rest, eat and filter water. I felt my first signs of nausea before we reached TC but it they were mild.

As we began our march up the switchbacks, my nausea began to increase and affect my pace and overall feeling. Our lone and most gracious male in our group took my waist pack at that time to ease my climb. Unfortunately my symptoms persisted. I took a few more breaks a Diamox and continued.

We saw a lone glissader down the chute and decided this was not for me! I began to feel a bit better as we descended from Trail Crest to the summit (the trail dips about 300 feet here before it climbs again). This was however a false sense of wellness as when we began to climb again I really began to feel worse. This is when I should have turned around. My nausea increased and thus began my series of vomitting (about 8 total)...we were about a half mile from the summit at this point. One of my hiking partners who suffered from an increasingly strong headache stayed with me while the other two in our party continued onward. From this point on I could only take 8-10 steps at a time before the nausea overwhelmed me. We inched our way to the summit..posed for a few pix, could hardly eat..used the wag...spent about 15 min at the summit and forgot to sign the guest book..

I then foolishly thought that by descending I would immediately feel better...I did for a short while until we had to climb once again before hitting Trail Crest...and from thereafter any short increase in elevation was brutal..I also had to pee about every 20 minutes due to the Diamox which did not help my cause.

Long story short it took me 9 hours to ascend (most of this from mid-switchbacks to summit)and 7 hours to descend back to the portal..a total of 16 hours.

The day after I found myself with continued effects of the climb including being very lightheaded, spacey, lethargic, nauseous and dehydrated. I was not physically sore (glad for that since I did train for a couple of months for the climb) but that's besides the point.

I posted this to let anyone out there preparing for the climb that you have to be prepared to turn around and not to even think about it...JUST DO IT..otherwise you pay the piper and so does your party.

I plan to do this hike once again but will spend much more time acclimatizing and will heed my body's call to call it quits.

Good luck to you..

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