I climbed Kilimanjaro successfully back in 2016. It was an amazing
experience and would recommend it for anyone.
If you’re planning on climbing Kilimanjaro one of the questions you’ll have
(I certainly did) was do I need to take Diamox when climbing Kilimanjaro?
What Is Diamox?
Diamox, also known as Acetazolamide, is used to prevent and/or reduce
altitude sickness symptoms.
AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) can cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches,
nausea and shortness of breath. These effects can begin when hiking or
climbing above 10,000 feet/3,048 meters too fast.
Taking Diamox can help prevent these side-effects allowing you to more
comfortably climb higher.
5 Tips To Successfully Summit Kilimanjaro
Simple tips to massively increase your chances of getting to the top!
Are there Side-Effects from Diamox?
Yes! Taking Diamox can have some funky side effects on the body. Obviously
everyone can react differently.
The most common side effects climbers mention are:
– Increased Urination
– Nausea/ Vomiting
– Loss of Appetite
– Tingling or Number in your extremities (arms/legs)
– Ringing in your ears
– A changed sense of taste
Not everyone will experience all of this but anecdotally nearly everyone
will have increased urination but even without Diamox you’ll be drinking a
lot of water so most climbers will be peeing a lot anyway!
Why I Didn’t Take Diamox
When I climbed I brought Diamox with me but I never took it. I was actually
the only one in my group who didn’t. Nearly everyone in my group was
American (I’m Irish), so maybe Americans have a more relaxed attitude to
popping some pills haha
My rationale was I wanted to be able clearly differentiate between the
effects of AMS versus the side effects of Diamox.
If I took Diamox from the start and I began to feel nauseous I wouldn’t be
able to tell if this was a side effect of Diamox or a symptom of AMS.
So my plan was to start without Diamox and then if I got AMS further up the
mountain start taking it then. I only ever got a slight headache one day
and was fine the next so I never bothered to take it.
The night before summiting I had a loss of appetite but pretty much
everyone gets that regardless.
Who Should Take Diamox?
I would recommend everyone to have Diamox in their pack, just in case.
If you’ve climbed at altitude before and you experienced AMS or other
symptoms then I would suggest you take it as a proactive measure.
For everyone else, it’s a personal preference.