Acetazolamide is a medicine that is used to treat altitude sickness. The medicine alone will not fully treat the condition so other measures at the time will have to be taken. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase from functioning efficiently, which leads to alleviation of symptoms of altitude sickness such as nausea, vomiting and imbalance.
- Treats altitude sickness.
- Most effective when used with other remedies
NOTE: After selecting this product, you will need to complete a short assessment, so we can make sure this medication is suitable for you. Pricing is provided as a reference only. The final decision on issuing this medication remains with our Prescriber / Pharmacist.
Acetazolamide is a medication that can be used to help prevent and relieve symptoms of altitude sickness by speeding up the process of acclimatisation. It causes the body to think it has an excess of carbon dioxide, which it tries to get rid of through deeper and more regular breathing. In doing so, the body increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which helps reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.
For prevention of altitude sickness, take 250mg twice daily, taken at least 24 hours before reaching high altitudes.
Can I keep climbing if I take Acetazolamide?
You should stop climbing until the symptoms have completely resolved, which in most cases will be within 48 hours. Acetazolamide will not protect you against your symptoms worsening if you continue to ascend.
Will Acetazolamide protect me from altitude sickness if I take the tablets during rapid changes in altitude?
Acetazolamide will help reduce the risk of altitude sickness on rapid ascents, but it is not a substitute for following proper protocols and correct precautions. Rapid ascents carry serious risks, and Acetazolamide does not remove them. In fact, it can make climbers feel safe enough to push through their illness, leading to much more severe conditions.
Can Acetazolamide mask a severe underlying condition, leading to complications?
Acetazolamide does not mask serious underlying symptoms; the medication treats the cause, not the symptoms. Acetazolamide increases the rate of acclimatisation. As acclimatisation occurs, the symptoms will resolve. Acetazolamide does not mask anything; if you are still unwell, then your symptoms will persist despite the medication.
Can I take Acetazolamide tablets and still drink alcohol?
You can drink alcohol whilst taking Acetazolamide tablets, but it is not advisable if you are experiencing the symptoms of altitude sickness. Alcohol can make the symptoms of altitude sickness worse.
Can I drive whilst I am taking Acetazolamide tablets?
Yes, you can drive and take Acetazolamide tablets; however, if you notice any adverse reactions or side effects, you should stop taking the medication.
There is always a risk of side effects with all medications. Some of these can be quite mild and can subside over time. Others are more serious and should be reported to your GP right away if you experience any side effects. Please contact a member of our team if you are concerned about any potential side effects that may occur when taking Acetazolamide.
Side effects may include:
- Tiredness or irritability
- Headaches and dizziness
- Tingling or numbness in fingers and toes
- Increased thirst
There are some rare yet serious side effects associated with the use of Acetazolamide. Contact a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Blood in urine
- Seizures or fits
- Sore throat or fever
- Bruising and unexplained bleeding
- Pain in the lower back
- Pale stools
Before taking any medicines, regardless of whether they are over the counter or prescription-only, it is essential always to read the patient information leaflet.
Patient Information Leaflet