If there is one thing I hate…it’s taking pills. I don’t really like to mess with my body, I rarely get sick enough to warrant taking prescription medications and I often to prefer to feel like crap than mask what my body is going through. That being said, you also want to stack the odds in your favor when traveling, since your time is limited to enjoy what you can. Antarctica and Aconcagua will present a variety of different challenges to the body and these are a few of the prescriptions that I’ve gotten to help battle them.
Zolpidem Tartrate, Ciprofloxacin, Acetazolamide and Dexamethasone.
Zolpidem Tartrate (Ambien, 5mg)- Used to treat sleeping problems. It is a sedative/hypnotic and acts on your brain to product a calming effect. Side Effects: dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches, upset stomach, diarrhea and dry mouth.
I’m not a big sleeper and I have trouble sleeping in cars, on planes, camping and even just napping at home after a long day in the mountains. My flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aries is overnight, so this is mainly to help me get some sleep on that flight…and I guess if my roommate on the Ski Cruise snores a lot. Even though it might help me get some much needed rest on Aconcagua, I don’t want it messing with my head, as I will most likely already be lightheaded and dizzy from the altitude.
Transderm-Scop (The Patch, 1.5mg)- Used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by motion sickness. It acts on the brain by blocking signals that cause throwing up, and also corrects the imbalance of hormones associated with motion sickness. Side Effects: blurred vision, dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, decreased sweating, constipation, and mild itching where it is applied to the skin.
I am not good at all with motion sickness. I hate amusement rides and have even gotten a little nauseous when surfing…though most likely from the salt water I probably swallowed. I will definitely be using The Patch on the sail across the Drake Passage to and from the Antarctic Peninsula, and depending on how the zodiac shuttles to the shore everyday go…maybe for the entire duration of the trip.
Ciprofloxacin (Cipro, 250mg)- Used to treat bacterial infections related to gastro-intestinal infection…”the runs”. It is a flouroquinolone antibacterial drug and kills bacteria by messing with the enzymes that cause it’s DNA to duplicate. Side Effects: irreversible peripheral neuropathy, weak tendons, acute liver failure/injury, lengthening of the heartbeat, severe central nervous system disorders, sensitivity to sunlight, +++.
I think my mother has scared me the most over the years about being very picky when traveling and eating in countries that might not be as clean as the United States in regards to public water supply, manufacturing practices and waste disposal, and it sucks to get the diarrhea when traveling…never mind camping. That being said, I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay on the boat and in Antarctica (more susceptible there to testosterone build up more than anything), but could Cipro be vital in helping me not loosing it completely on Aconcagua…no pun intended.
Acetazolamide (Diamox, 250mg)- Used to treat glaucoma, epileptic seizures, intercranial hypertension, altitude sickness, kidney stones and dural ectasia (sweeling around the spinal cord) Diamox is a carbonic anhydrase inhitbitor and helps reduce the symptoms associated with AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Side Effects: numbness and tingling of the fingers/toes, reduced ability to taste food, increased urination and blurred vision.
Obviously for Aconcagua, but he general goal is to listen to my body, acclimatize properly, and not take any meds relating to acclimatizing and altitude sickness. However, if I start rocking a severe headache at altitude, Diamox might be just enough to relieve the pain of headaches associated with AMS and allow me to get a good nights rest.
Dexamethasone (4mg)- Used to treat arthritis, immune system disorders, allergic reactions, skin and eye conditions, breathing problems, bowel disorders, cancer and altitude sickness. It is a corticosteroid hormone and reduces swelling and allergic type reactions. Side Effects: upset stomach, headache, dizziness, insomnia and increased appetite.
Hopefully we’ll be able to avoid getting so far out there that we need Dex, but if the shit hits the fan, a prudent climber is always prepared, so I’m bringing some for Aconcagua. Though I’ve heard that Dex is more effective in a liquid/syringe form, it can be hard to keep it from freezing, so I opted for tablets. I’ve also heard that you’re kinda toast, as far as your trip goes, if you need to take Dex in the end, but if you’re having symptoms of HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema)…it may just save your life.
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