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prep for altitude for first timers

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cleveland OH
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prep for altitude for first timers

We seniors are taking our first trip to CO, starting in COS for a few days, then Estes Pk and RMNP.

As a precaution, we asked our individual MD's for diamox rx.

Mine says to take 3 a day, starting 2 days before, for 4 days total.

Husband's says to take 2 a day for 7 days, no advance start.

I'm leery of side effects, may take 1 a day before we go, then see how I feel.

any suggestions, experiences with diamox??

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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1. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

A great source for information on traveling to altitude is the Institute for Altitude Medicine in Telluride. Here is a link to their recommendations to physicians regarding diamox.


This link is their discussion on altitude sickness and how to prevent it.


Thousands of people travel to Colorado every year with no real complications related to the altitude. The most common suggestions for prevention of altitude sickness are to stay hydrated, start drinking extra water a day or so before your trip and continue to do so during your trip. You want almost no yellow in the toilet. Avoid alcohol at least the first day and limit caffeine. Take it slow the first day. Sleep the first night at a lower elevation. You should be fine sleeping in Colorado Springs. For each libation, add a glass of water. Avoid large heavy meals. If no rx interactions or other health issues, consider adding a baby aspirin (81mg) to your diet before and during your visit.

If it were me, I would hold off taking the diamox unless you have had problems with altitude in the past. There is an excellent chance you will not need it at all.

Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Crested Butte, Gunnison
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2. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

I think the best suggestion would be to asked each of your respective doctors about the disparity in the prescription. When questions about altitude medication come up in TA forums, I find that the best responses are those that suggest the member speak with a doctor. Well done for having already consulted a doctor. That said, soliciting medical advice on a travel website that might contradict the recommendations of your primary medical provider is not a good idea.

Park City, Utah
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for Utah, Winter Sports
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3. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

Can't tell you about the medication specifically and I'm always leery of a medication such as this that essentially changes your body functions to compensate for effects of altitude. A few suggestions I can make in overall trip planning would be to drink lots of water - on the plane and continuing when you get to Colorado. Keep it up. In your itinerary planning in Colorado Springs, look at doing things in town on first day(s) like Garden of Gods, etc. and leave higher elevation attractions like Pike's Peak for second (or third) day.

For perspective, the pressurization altitude of an airliner is higher than the elevation of Colorado Springs. My general advice to people coming out to visit us in the mountains is to just take it easy, hydrate and use common sense. Don't get too worked up about it. For sure, you'll notice the altitude. But if you take a reasonable approach to it you should be fine.

Good luck.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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4. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

We're skiers, and DH (now age 65) has often had trouble when we stay at 9000'+, even though we drink lots of water, avoid alcohol & caffeine for the 1st 2 days and take an aspirin every morning & evening to thin the blood and improve oxygenation.

He takes Diamox; his MD recommends: 2 a day for 2 days before and the 1st 3 days we're there. it has made a big difference for him. I also think it's wise to speak to each of your MDs about why they prescribed the way they did and not change the dosage on your own.

Aspen, Colorado
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5. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

know some of the potential wonderful side effects of diamox:

altered taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, polyuria, drowsiness, confusion.

Fruita, Colorado
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for Fruita, Grand Junction
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6. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

Here is a link we have suggested people use before about diamox. Hope it helps.


Edited: 21 August 2013, 03:30
Frisco, Colorado
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for Frisco
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7. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

I am so happy to see posters suggesting Diamox is not the be-all do-all. It is a dangerous drug IMO. Numero uno rule to visiting our high altitude dry climate... drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Numero uno side-effect of Diamox frequent urination. I ask, how is that possibly a good thing, taxing your kidneys and making it difficult to hydrate.

People who say "But I drink tons of water" actually are not drinking tons of water. I sure hope you asked your respective doctors about drug interactions. The fact that they both prescribed differently tells me A) they really don't know anything about the drug and high altitude medicine B) it is all a guessing game how this drug really works. Ask your doctors about NOT taking it and just keeping it as a precautionary.

Every Body is different, but a good general rule of thumb is to take your weight divide it in half and drink that many ounces water each day. Add 8 ounces for every 20 minutes of sweaty exercise you do. So let's say you weigh 200lbs. Half of that is 100 - 100oz of water each day. One day you do a difficult hike for two hours and you are sweating - that is six 20 minute intervals. So 6x8=48. That day you should drink 148 oz of water. That is A LOT of water! BTW, tea, soda, juice don't count. I am NOT dolling out medical advice - just a general rule of thumb. Ask your doctor how much water you should drink.

A quick trip back down to Denver/or similar altitude is usually an easy and quick cure for altitude sickness symptoms. Enjoy your trip and have fun!

8. Re: prep for altitude for first timers

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