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What is Diamox?

Diamox, also known as acetazolamide, is a medication used to reduce symptoms of altitude sickness. This drug prevents symptoms of nausea, dizziness, tiredness, and shortness of breath that can occur when climbing high altitudes quickly. Acetazolamide is used when you cannot ascend slowly and allow your body to adjust to the altitude. This drug is also used with other medications to treat pressure in the eye due to certain types of glaucoma.

How does Diamox work?

Diamox is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, which works by decreasing the production of fluid inside the eye. It also decreases the buildup of body fluids caused by heart failure or other medications. This drug is typically used for a short period of time.

Make sure to always read the patient information and instructions before using this medication. Always follow your doctor’s directions.

  • This drug is taken 1 to 4 times daily, or 1 to 2 times a day if you are using the long-acting capsules.
  • Swallow the capsules whole and do not crush, chew, or break the capsules.
  • Take this drug with or without food and drink plenty of fluids.
  • To prevent altitude sickness, start taking Diamox 1 to 2 days before you start your climb. Continue taking the drug while climbing and for 48 hours after you reach your final altitude.
  • If you develop severe altitude sickness, it is important to climb down as quickly as possible.
  • When using this drug for other conditions, take it regularly and at the same time of day.
  • Do not increase your dose or stop taking without consulting your doctor.


Tell your doctor and pharmacist:

  • About your drug and other allergies.
  • If you take any other prescription or over-the-counter medications.
  • If you have a medical history of adrenal gland problems, untreated mineral imbalance, dehydration, kidney disease, liver disease, breathing problems, diabetes, gout, overactive thyroid, or narrow angle glaucoma.

You should also know:

  • This drug does not cure all altitude sickness symptoms. Serious altitude sickness symptoms include severe shortness of breath, confusion, difficulty concentrating, lack of coordination, extreme tiredness, and severe headache.
  • This drug may rarely raise your blood sugar, which can worsen diabetes.
  • This drug may make you dizzy, drowsy, or blur your vision, so do not drive or operate machinery until you can do it safely.
  • This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun.
  • Older adults may be more sensitive to side effects of Diamox.

Side effects of Diamox

Common side effects of Diamox include but are not limited to:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Increased urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness

Get medical help if you have any of the following side effects of acetazolamide.

  • Hearing loss
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney problems
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Irregular heartbeat


Can pregnant women take Diamox?

During pregnancy, this drug can be used when necessary, but consult your doctor to discuss risks and benefits. This drug also passes into breast milk, but is unlikely to harm a nursing infant.

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