Altitude Sickness

Information and prevention of altitude or mountain sickness

Altitude sickness is a condition which affects some people when they are on a high mountain. This is because of the decrease in atmospheric pressure which makes it harder to inhale enough oxygen. Altitude sickness in its mildest form can occur at a height of 2,500m above sea level and can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches and breathing difficulties which can become potentially fatal if left untreated.

The symptoms can be prevented by using a medication such as Diamox before you begin to ascend. At euroClinix, we provide medication which can be used to prevent altitude sickness before going abroad. You will need to simply fill in a free online consultation as part of the order process so that a doctor can be sure that it will be a safe and effective medication for you before a prescription is provided to our pharmacy and your medication dispatched for free next day delivery.

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Diamox (Acetazolamide)

5 / 5 (2 Reviews)
    • Prevents altitude sickness
    • Reduces symptoms should they occur
    • Contains a diuretic which changes the acidity of the blood to prevent nausea
More Info about Diamox (Acetazolamide)

What is altitude sickness?

The term 'altitude sickness' is used to describe a combination of symptoms which some people experience when they are at the top of a high mountain. It does not affect people within the UK as the highest mountain measures only 1,344m. However, many people who go abroad on skiing, hiking or trekking holidays may experience symptoms when they reach a high altitude.

What causes it?

The decrease in atmospheric pressure at high altitudes means that the oxygen supply to your brain and muscles will be reduced. The main cause for severe altitude sickness is a lack of acclimatisation. This means that you have reached a high altitude and not allowed your body to adjust to the height before moving further up. As your lungs and heart have to work harder the higher up you get, this can lead to dangerous complications if there is a lack of oxygen flowing through the body.

What are the common symptoms?

Symptoms of altitude sickness can vary from person to person. It can affect people of all ages, fitness levels, height, weight and sex. Even those that have not suffered altitude sickness before could find themselves suffering at a later date while ascending.

Mild forms of altitude sickness include symptoms of:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Struggling to breathe

Severe altitude sickness can cause:

  • The chest to make a bubbling sound
  • Breathing to worsen
  • A productive cough of pink froth
  • Disorientation and struggling to walk
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Severe altitude sickness is something that can occur if you ascend to around 12,000 feet or more. The symptoms of severe altitude sickness should be taken seriously and anyone suffering from it should be brought down the mountain as soon as possible and seek medical attention.

Some people may also suffer from more serious altitude sickness which can cause fatal complications, in which case it is important to contact a doctor and descend immediately.

What complications are there?

Severe altitude sickness is considered a medical emergency and can present symptoms such as extreme breathlessness and coughing, difficulty walking, convulsions and confusion or irrational behaviour. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should immediately descend by at least 600m, otherwise they are at risk of suffering from cerebral or pulmonary oedema which can result in a coma or death.

Treating altitude sickness

If you are displaying mild altitude sickness symptoms you should not ascend any higher until your symptoms improve. If there are no signs of symptoms dissipating you should descend at least 500 meters to lower the altitude. During the time resting you should rest, not smoke and drink clear fluids. You should not try to exercise or ascend any further.

Many mountain climbers take Diamox to avoid the associated symptoms or alleviate them should they get altitude sickness while climbing. Taking Diamox before setting out will help to reduce the chance of you getting altitude sickness. It is advisable to start Diamox a few days before you start your climb as this will allow you to get used to the medication before starting out. It should be taken during the climb and for a day or two after reaching the peak to keep symptoms at bay.

Can you prevent altitude sickness?

Yes. If you are planning on reaching a high altitude you are advised to take precautions in order to avoid suffering from the condition. This can include medication such as Diamox, which can be taken before you begin the ascent. This medication will change the acidity of the blood in order to improve breathing and help with lung function which can be compromised in high altitudes.

To further decrease your chances of suffering from altitude sickness you should always climb slowly so that the body can acclimatise to each new altitude and stop or descend as soon as you experience any symptoms.

Can you order altitude sickness treatments online?

Diamox is available here online and can be used to prevent altitude sickness in conjunction with other precautionary measures such as a slow ascent. If you would like to buy the treatment you will need to fill in an online consultation so that one of our doctors can ensure that the treatment will be safe and effective for you to use. When your order has been approved the medication will be dispatched for next day delivery from a registered pharmacy.

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