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Wilderness Medical Society Publishes Prevention And Treatment Tips For Altitude Sickness

Led by Andrew Luks MD and his colleagues, the Wilderness Medical Society has published Consensus Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Altitude Illness (Wild Environ Med 2010:21;146-155). These guidelines are intended to provide clinicians about best evidence-based practices, and were derived from the deliberations of an expert panel, of which I was a member. The disorders considered were acute mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). The guidelines present the main prophylactic and therapeutic modalities for each disorder and provide recommendations for their roles in disorder management. The guidelines also provide suggested approaches to prevention and management of each disorder that incorporate the recommendations.

In outline format, here is what can be found in these Guidelines: Read more »

This post, Wilderness Medical Society Publishes Prevention And Treatment Tips For Altitude Sickness, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Drug Safety In Preventing Acute Mountain Sickness

This is a guest post by Dr. Jeremy Windsor.


Steroids and Acute Mountain Sickness

In recent years, many attempts have been made to identify safe and effective medications to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS). Acetazolamide (Diamox), currently the “drug of choice” for this purpose, is not perfect and occasionally causes objectionable side effects. Dexamethasone (Decadron), a powerful steroid medication, has become increasingly popular for prevention and treatment in certain circles. While there is ample evidence to suggest that dexamethasone is effective, a recent case report highlights that this drug is not without risk.

In the latest issue of the journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine [WEM 21(4):345-348, 2010] in an article entitled ”Complications of steroid use on Mt. Everest,” Bishnu Subedi and colleagues working for the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) described the case of a 27 year-old man who was prescribed a course of three drugs, including dexamethasone, intended to support him during his attempt to climb Mt. Everest. After more than three weeks of taking the medications, the mountaineer noticed the appearance of a rash and decided to stop taking them. Rather than wait for the rash to subside, he chose to continue his acclimatization program and ascend to Camp 3 at 7010m altitude. The patient arrived exhausted and confused; onlookers quickly recognized that something was seriously wrong and so a rescue party was organized to help him back to safety. Read more »

This post, Drug Safety In Preventing Acute Mountain Sickness, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

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