Flight Medicine & Family Medicine
Dr. Greg Davenport
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to review the current treatment options for the prevention of acute mountain sickness and potential alternatives.
Method: A PubMed, Cochrane Review, and Google Scholar literature search was completed with search terms acetazolamide, dexamethasone, ibuprofen, prevention, and acute mountain sickness. Fifteen pertinent articles were retrieved and served as the basis for this clinical review.
Results: Significant evidence-based research revealed the first-line use of gradual ascent as the safest option to prevent acute mountain sickness. The research revealed acetazolamide and dexamethasone continue to be the first-lime medications when gradual ascent is not possible. A lack of evidence-based research to demonstrate ibuprofen aids in the acclimatization process, but does reveal benefits in preventing acute mountain sickness symptoms.
Conclusion: Acetazolamide and dexamethasone have been used as rapid acclimatization tools for decades to prevent acute mountain sickness. Current evidence-based research continues to reveal the efficacy of these medications. However, these medications have the potential to cause significant adverse side effects. Alternative medications for acclimatization need further research to establish their efficacy. Ibuprofen is a promising medication due to its ability to prevent acute mountain sickness symptoms. Yet, research is lacking on determining if ibuprofen physiologically aids in the acclimatization process.
Hawkins KW. Advances in the Prevention of Acute Mountain Sickness. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science. 2022; 4(3).
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