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Diamox (acetazolamide) is a prescription medication, which contains the active ingredient acetazolamide. It is not officially licensed as a treatment for altitude sickness but it can be prescribed by a doctor for the purpose of preventing the condition if it is deemed appropriate to do so. Many people have used Diamox successfully to help prevent altitude sickness, but it is important to note that the medication should not be used as an alternative to appropriately preparing for ascending to high altitudes nor as an alternative for acclimatisation.
Diamox contains the active ingredient acetazolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor and diuretic. Acetazolamide works to affect the acidity of the blood, which helps to reduce the possibility of symptoms like headaches. It also produces bicarbonate, which helps in the process of removing adequate amounts of water from the blood through urine. This means there is a lower level of fluid around the brain, heart and lungs, aiding breathing. By having this affect on the body, acetazolamide can help to prevent symptoms of altitude sickness occurring. The active ingredient is also used to treat glaucoma.
Even in its mildest form, altitude sickness can have a very negative impact on what should otherwise be an enjoyable experience. In severe cases, it can put your health at serious risk, sometimes requiring hospitalisation.
Treatments like acetazolamide (Diamox) can help to prevent altitude sickness from occurring, and is beneficial for mountain sickness also, provided they are taken alongside appropriate precautionary measures such as acclimatisation and so they can be highly beneficial to people planning on ascending to high altitudes. Additionally this altitude sickness treatment is available in 250mg tablet form, meaning it is very easy to store and take while on the move.
Each 250mg tablet should be swallowed whole with a glass of water, preferably alongside a meal. Your prescribed dosage will depend on your individual needs, but it will likely be up to four tablets to be taken throughout the day. It is usually advised that as a preventative treatment acetazolamide treatment should begin one or two days before you begin ascending. You should follow the course of treatment prescribed to you and never increase or decrease your dosage without discussing it with a doctor first.
The usage might differ slightly if used for mountain sickness but you should endeavour to use it as closely to the instructions listed in the patient information leaflet attached with the medication
Please note that it is essential to follow the normal methods of altitude sickness prevention even if you are taking medication for it. It is important to allow your body the time it needs to acclimatise to new altitudes.
Acetazolamide tablets are only available in the form of a 250mg tablet. This dosage has been specifically formulated by the manufacturer in order to maximise the efficiency of the medicine, whilst simultaneously minimising the possibility of side effects. Your doctor will be able to tell you more about the dosage and what to do if you think you have taken too much.
There is a small risk of side effects with this medication, as is the case with any prescription medication. This rarely occur but if they do whilst using this medication, you may experience:
Such effects should only be mild and will not last for very long. More serious effects, such as an allergic reaction, will require urgent medical attention.
Acetazolamide is clinically proven to be a safe medication with a relatively low risk of side effects, however as a prescription medication there are some contraindications to its usage. It is first important to bear in mind that though acetazolamide can be prescribed by a doctor to help prevent altitude sickness, although it has not been strictly licensed for this purpose. Diamox (acetazolamide) should never be used as an alternative to methods of acclimatisation.
This medication should not be taken by anyone who:
For further information about the side effects, interactions and precautions of using Diamox, please refer to the helpful patient leaflet. This is included in your medication's packet. It is also available in PDF form to download at the bottom of this page.
You are still able to buy Diamox, but it is now in the form of its base ingredient - acetazolamide, therefore it will not come packaged as Diamox. To receive your tablets conveniently, you will first need to complete a brief online consultation. This only takes a few minutes, and allows our doctors to assess your medical history, and decide if this medication is the more suitable treatment for you. Once your prescription has been tailored, we will ready your medicine for express dispatch from our pharmacy. If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to speak to our friendly UK customer service team.