What is Diamox (acetazolamide)?
Diamox contains the active ingredient acetazolamide, which is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor: a medicine that stimulates the removal of excess fluid from the body. When you use Diamox or acetazolamide, the amount of salts excreted by the kidneys is increased. Because salt attracts water, this helps to get rid of excess fluid in the body through the urine. Diamox is a diuretic, commonly called a water pill. Diuretics are used to treat a variety of conditions in which the body retains too much fluid.
What is it used for?
Diamox (acetazolamide) tablets are prescribed to prevent altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can occur when travelling to an altitude above 2,500 meters. As you ascend, the concentration of oxygen in the body decreases, causing symptoms such as:
- shortness of breath
- loss of appetite
- oedema (moisture accumulation)
Taking Diamox (acetazolamide) tablets can help acclimatisation and relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness. Acetazolamide can also be useful in other conditions such as oedema, sleep apnoea and epilepsy.
Use and dosage
Acetazolamide tablets should be swallowed whole with some liquid. Unless otherwise prescribed by a doctor, the general recommended dose for altitude sickness is as follows:
- Start taking the tablets one day before ascent.
Duration of the treatment should be decided by a doctor. Dosage should also be determined by a doctor if Diamox (acetazolamide) is used to treat a condition other than altitude sickness.
Diamox (acetazolamide) may have side effects. Reported side effects include:
- Increased frequency of urination: Diamox (acetazolamide) tablets are water pills which cause you to urinate more often;
- Thirst: be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration;
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea): taking Diamox (acetazolamide) with meals helps to prevent these symptoms.
For a full list of possible contraindications, warnings and other side effects, see the package leaflet.
Do not use Diamox (acetazolamide) if you are pregnant. Consult your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
Diamox (acetazolamide) may affect your vision or ability to react. This is usually only a temporary side effect. Stay out of traffic if you experience short-sightedness, drowsiness or dizziness.
Alcohol can intensify the side effects of Diamox (acetazolamide). It is important that you are aware of this and reduce your alcohol intake.