A new study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine is showing that Ibuprofen prevents acute mountain sickness (AMS).
“Ibuprofen could be an easy way to prevent AMS in a significant number of the tens of millions of people who travel to high altitudes each year.” Grant Lipman, study author.
The study shows that Ibuprofen reduces your chances of acquiring AMS by 26%. Participants who did suffer altitude sickness and took Ibuprofen experienced less severe symptoms.
This study had flat-lander participants climb from 4,100 feet to 12,570 feet in the White Mountains of California. These study participants consumed 600 milligrams of Ibuprofen 6 hours before their climb. These climbers were then asked how they felt using the Lake Louise Questionnaire which determined how ill from altitude they were.
Grant Lipman is a freaky professor (dude is into cavemen)at Stanfurd University School of Medicine and is the author of the study. He hypothesizes that low oxygen levels found in the brain at higher altitudes may cause the brain to swell with fluid. Ibuprofen reduces that swelling and takes away many of the symptoms of AMS.
So, should you start popping Vitamin I every time you go to elevation? Probably not. The sample size of this study was very small at only 86 persons. We’ll all likely want to see more studies on this subject before guzzling ibuprofen before every climb.
Yet, these results are enough to potentially believe that Vitamin I may reduce your risk. Ibuprofen does have negative side effects, but you probably know if you experience these or not. What we don’t have much data on is how Ibuprofens mal effects show up at high altitude.
COMMON NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS OF IBUPROFEN:
Common adverse effects include: nausea, dyspepsia, gastrointestinal ulceration/bleeding, raised liver enzymes, diarrhea, constipation, epistaxis, headache, dizziness, priapism, rash, salt and fluid retention, and hypertension. A study from 2010 has shown regular use of NSAIDs was associated with an increase in hearing loss.
Ibuprofen appears to have the lowest incidence of digestive adverse drug reactions (ADRs) of all the nonselective NSAIDs. However, this holds true only at lower doses of ibuprofen, so OTC preparations of ibuprofen are, in general, labeled to advise a maximum daily dose of 1,200 mg. – Wikipedia
ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS:
– Commonly occurs above 8,000 feet
– Symptoms: headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, general malaise, and sleep disturbance
– Can progress to potentially fatal High Altitude Pulmonary Edema or High Altitude Cerebral Edema
– 25% of people experience altitude illness at high elevations
Acute mountain sickness occurs in more than 25% of the tens of millions of people who travel to high altitude each year. Previous studies on chemoprophylaxis with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are limited in their ability to determine efficacy. We compare ibuprofen versus placebo in the prevention of acute mountain sickness incidence and severity on ascent from low to high altitude.
Healthy adult volunteers living at low altitude were randomized to ibuprofen 600 mg or placebo 3 times daily, starting 6 hours before ascent from 1,240 m (4,100 ft) to 3,810 m (12,570 ft) during July and August 2010 in the White Mountains of California. The main outcome measures were acute mountain sickness incidence and severity, measured by the Lake Louise Questionnaire acute mountain sickness score with a diagnosis of ≥ 3 with headache and 1 other symptom.
Eighty-six participants completed the study; 44 (51%) received ibuprofen and 42 (49%) placebo. There were no differences in demographic characteristics between the 2 groups. Fewer participants in the ibuprofen group (43%) developed acute mountain sickness compared with those receiving placebo (69%) (odds ratio 0.3, 95% confidence interval 0.1 to 0.8; number needed to treat 3.9, 95% confidence interval 2 to 33). The acute mountain sickness severity was higher in the placebo group (4.4 [SD 2.6]) than individuals receiving ibuprofen (3.2 [SD 2.4]) (mean difference 0.9%; 95% confidence interval 0.3% to 3.0%).
Compared with placebo, ibuprofen was effective in reducing the incidence of acute mountain sickness.
Read More About This Study Here: Ibuprofen Prevents Altitude Sickness