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Reviews > Health & Safety > Medications > Strides Shasun Acetazolamide > Owner Review by Mike Lipay

Strides Shasun Limited - Acetazolamide
Owner Review by Mike Lipay
October 30, 2021



Reviewer Information
Gender:Male
Age:66
Height:5' 6" (1.6 meters)
Weight:156 lb (71 kg)
Email:mike-at-pahiker-dot-com
Home:Southwest Pennsylvania, USA
Background:I’ve been hiking since ’65 with occasional backpacking trips (backpacking became a love affair in the early 80’s). My first sleeping bag weighed in at 8 lb (3.6 kg) by itself! These days my loaded pack only weighs about 15 lb (6.8 kg) sans food. While most of my adventures are in the Northeast I’ve also been spending a good deal of time in the desert Southwest and most places in-between. My trips tend be in the cooler months - September through May - as I’m not much of a hot-weather person.



Product Information
Manufacturer: Strides Shasun Limited
Year Acquired: 2019
URL: www.Strides.com
Product: Acetazolamide (generic form of Diamox), 125mg
Availability: Prescription
MSRP: $17.16 US for 10


Product Description

The brand name Diamox is no longer manufactured, only the generic Acetazolamide is available in the United States, not sure about other countries. Acetazolamide is a medication used for the treatment of various diseases, of interest to hikers is its use to treat and prevent (lessen) the effects of altitude/mountain sickness (hereafter referred to as just altitude sickness), which occurs when a hiker ascends above 8,000 ft (2,400 m).

Manufacturer's and my physician's directions include no alcohol should be used while taking Acetazolamide, or for 24 hours after the final pill (needs to clear the system), so much for the high-point toast! Additionally, no aspirin can be taken while using Acetazolamide (or 24 hours after stopping), with the exception of low-dose aspirin prescribed by a physician.


What is Altitude Sickness?

Altitude Sickness occurs when a person ascends beyond 8,000 ft (2,400 m) above sea level, mild symptoms include rapid breathing, shortness of breath, and frequent urination (which can lead to dehydration). These are usually alleviated by pausing for 24 hours to acclimate to the altitude, then not ascending more than 1,000 ft (300 m) per day. This is usually not practical for most day hikes, even backpacking trips become seriously extended if you have to rest an entire day to acclimate to the new level (additionally, it is recommended that an additional day of rest be done every 3,000 ft [900 m]).

More serious symptoms include headaches not relieved by the usual medications, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness in limbs, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite. If not treated these can progress to a staggering gait, confusion, hallucinations, coma, and death (this can seriously ruin the hike for everyone).

Acetazolamide, taken as directed, can reduce the severity of these symptoms. My doctor said to take a single pill 24 hours prior to the ascent, then take another pill 12 hours later. I am then to continue taking one pill twice a day during the ascent, finally taking one pill twice a day for two days after reaching the final peak, or during the final descent if not staying at the peak for an extended period.


Usage

During a hiking trip in Arizona where I ascended from about 2,500 ft (760 m) to 9,160 ft (2,792 m) in one day I started experiencing headaches and dehydration when I passed about 8,350 ft (2,500 m) and had a difficult time continuing with the hike. I did continue onto the top then back down to where we had parked. While I did not experience enough discomfort to worry about doing this hike my plans for the next year included day hikes that would take me above the 10,000 ft mark (3,000 m) and I was concerned enough to discuss the situation with my doctor, she recommended taking Acetazolamide.

Not wanting to risk experiencing any side effects from the Acetazolamide - common are dizziness, lightheadedness, and increased urination as the body adjusts. More serious side effects may include blurred vision, dry mouth, drowsiness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in taste (all reasons to discontinue use) I decided to try it by repeating the earlier hike, before relying on it for the higher ascents. Nothing is 100% sure, but on the repeat hike I experienced no effects from the altitude nor from the drug itself. Next year I was able to complete a hike to 10,696 ft (3,260 m) with no major problems and am looking forward to more high-altitude hikes in the future.


Summary

The Acetazolamide did a nice job for me of reducing the effects of altitude sickness but, as with any type of medication, check with a physician first (it is a prescription medication), try it out before making any ascents above 8,000 feet (2,500 m). It’s not good to experience serious side effects while hiking at high altitudes, especially if they require an emergency rescue.

  • What I liked about Acetazolamide:
    • Inexpensive, cost me less than $2 USD per pill.
    • Readily available. My pharmacy has it in stock for other uses so there was no wait for them to obtain it.
    • Directions were simple: 2x per day, including the day before and 2-3 days after the ascents.

  • What I don’t like about Acetazolamide:
    • It is a prescription, so I had to contact a doctor and determine ahead of time how many I would need. Not as convenient as going to a store and picking up a bottle of 25 pills.
    • Cannot use alcohol while taking it, or for 24 hours afterwards (clear the system).


Read more reviews of Strides Shasun gear
Read more gear reviews by Mike Lipay

Reviews > Health & Safety > Medications > Strides Shasun Acetazolamide > Owner Review by Mike Lipay



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