Hey guys! Today I’m covering a very important topic for any higher altitude trekker. I would recommend reading this blog all the way to the end. Because I’m talking about life-saving drugs today. We call them LSDs, life-saving drugs.
Time and again we’ve seen that these three medicines have come to the rescue of trekkers, even in dire situations of severe cases of AMS, HAPE, and HACE. I’m talking about Diamox, Nifedipine, and Dexamethasone. I’m not going to give you a medical discourse on these medicines.
Here are the Life Saving Drugs to tackle altitude sickness:
1) Diamox or Acetazolamide, Life Saving Drugs
The first medicine we are talking about is Diamox or Acetazolamide (medical name). Now, Diamox has almost become a household name. You may know that we use it to prevent AMS and also to treat AMS.
How and When to Use:
How it works, is that it helps you acclimatize faster. It makes your blood thinner, so your heart pumps oxygenated blood a lot more easily to your body parts, and it also makes you breathe faster and deeper taking in more oxygen, so it has to acclimatize faster. Well, there’s one thumb rule, just look at the altitude you’re climbing to.
Are you climbing above 12,000 feet? If it’s a no, then you don’t really need a course of Diamox, that is treks like Kedarkantha, Dayara Bugyal, Deoriatal, Brahmatal, on none of these treks. You need to go on a preventive course of Diamox. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot get AMS on these treks. So, you must always have a strip of Diamox with you in your medical kit.
The second life-saving drug is Nifedipine. Now you may have heard of Nifedipine, it is used to treat high altitude pulmonary edema or HAPE. Now when you have HAPE, there’s a lot of pressure around your lungs.
How and When to use:
So, with that pressure, there’s a lot of fluids entering your lungs making it very difficult to breathe. This is where the Nifedipine comes into the picture. It reduces the pressure around your lungs stops those liquids from oozing into your lungs, gives you a lot of relief lets you breathe.
3) Dexamethasone or Dex , Life Saving Drugs
The third life-saving drug is Dexamethasone or Dex. Now Dex is used to treat High Altitude Cerebral Edema, which is a fluid accumulation in your brain that causes bad headaches, it gives you a loss of muscular coordination sometimes even hallucinations.
How and When to use:
Now how dexamethasone helps, is that It reduces the inflammation in your brain, reducing the water accumulation in your brain and it also is a steroid. So, give you a burst of energy. It gives you relief and lot of energy to get yourself out of high altitude.
It comes in small doses in our country and around 0.5 mg and usually administered in doses of 4 mg and it’s a steroid so you have to wean it off even after you start you have to continue the dosage and then stop it. Interestingly, lt is noticed that Dex is also very effective in treating mild symptoms of AMS.
But what we know is that, these three are life-saving drugs at high altitude. Diamox is used when you have AMS. Nifedipine and Dexamethasone when you have HAPE and HACE, mostly for emergency cases, let’s hope you don’t ever have to use them. All of these medicines have a certain way of administering them, you should know about it before you actually go about administering it.
Travel to live, Live to Travel!!