Author(s): Hackett PH, Roach RC
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Abstract Acute mountain sickness (AMS) and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) continue to cause significant morbidity and occasional deaths among mountain recreationists and residents. Descent to lower altitude is still considered the treatment of choice, but an increased role for medical therapy is emerging. Acetazolamide is currently the drug of choice for prevention of AMS, and probably HAPE as well. Numerous studies have demonstrated the drug's effectiveness when it is started 12 to 24 hours before ascent. Suggestions for indications, dosage, and regimen vary with different authors. Lower dosage offers adequate protection with fewer side effects. Acetazolamide has still not been adequately studied for treatment of altitude illness. Oxygen effectively treats HAPE and mild AMS, but is not as useful for cerebral edema. Dexamethasone recently was found effective for treatment of AMS, including early cerebral edema, but not for advanced cerebral edema. Side effects limit its use for prophylaxis, but dexamethasone offers an alternative to acetazolamide for those with sulfa intolerance.
This article was published in Ann Emerg Med
and referenced in Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics