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More about high altitude medicine

I spent another day studying high altitude medicine. I was really lucky a few days ago – after reaching out to the Swedish Climbing committee I got a contact to a doctor that works with so many cool stuff including being on the medicine board of UIAA and working with the Swedish military mountain guides and he will be able to help me for my expedition. I´m very happy about this – it takes a lot of the stress away from the final preparations. He sent some some material to read through and it´s just so interesting to learn more about these things. I love it!

One of the documents he sent me was about identifying AMS / HACE / HAPE and treatment for it. It also takes up a lot of other diagnosis and how to treat them and had a self report questionnaire with control questions to ask yourself to trace symptoms of AMS. I will use it and keep a log every day together with my oxygen levels. But he also told me that it´s even better if you do this in a group so you can notice irregular symptoms. For example: If everyone have around 88 in oxygen first day in basecamp then you have something to compare with. If the next day everyone have around 90 and one have 68 then you can tell something happened.

The other document is about medicine and drug use in climbing and ethics. It´s the official standards of UIAA medical commission. If you are interested you can find it here.

“It is not the UIAA Medcom’s intention to judge. We simply welcome openness and honesty but also want to protect mountaineers from possible harm. We do believe that, wherever possible, the use of drugs specifically taken with the intention to enhance performance should be avoided in the mountains. ”

This report tells you about medicine and drugs often used within climbing and the pros and cons. It also have information about interactions and ethics.

“According to observations undertaken trekking or mountaineering at the Bafaru Bivouac (4,860m) on Mt. Kilimanjaro 46.7% of those studied took acetazolamide (Diamox), 40,0% dexamethasone, 4.5% coca leaves, and only 8.8% were “clean”. In most cases this use was based on peer advice and pressure rather than any medical indication. Despite this drug consumption 80.0% suffered from AMS”

I have never used any medicine, drugs or oxygen when climbing high mountains before but for this expedition I want to have acetazolamide and dexamethasone with me in case I need it. To treat a potential dangerous situation. I do not intend to use it in any other way. It´s for my safety since I have to be able to take care of myself. At 8000 m there is no rescue.

I´m so happy to have met this doctor, he seems great and have so much stories, information and after talking for almost one hour yesterday I felt I go keep talking for a week. I hope I get to meet him in the future. His experience in this is amazing.

He also warned me – when I go to get my medicine from the pharmacy they will think my doctor did a mistake writing this medicine to me since these medicines are usually used to treat other diseases like cancer. So it might be impossible for me to actually get it unless they call him so he can explain to them. As I said – it´s not easy to get help with this and it probably shouldn´t be either. But I´m really happy that it´s going to be sorted out so I don´t have to stress about this anymore.

Photo by Paul Romain

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