Archive for March, 2011

Turkey video

March 29th, 2011

This has nothing to do with altitude, but here’s some video of a male wild turkey I recorded from the living room of my house.


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Three additions to your medical kit

March 11th, 2011

Disclaimer: I’m not a physician. You should discuss the recommendations below with your physician and make sure you understand the side effects and contraindications for these medications.

Expedition medical kits should contain drugs and equipment that people know how to use. So there’s no way to come up with a “standard” kit. In the book I discuss a number of different drugs that might be useful. I want to point out three drugs that might not be on your radar screen for your next trip.

Tinidazole is used to treat Giardia infections and amoebic dysentery, both of which are common visitors in an expedition. I recommend this drug because it replaces metronidazole (Flagyl), which has been the standard treatment in the US for many years. A single dose of Tinidazole is all that’s needed to treat Giardia. It will be much cheaper to buy it abroad. Buy enough to treat dysentery.

The Advair inhaler literally got me to the top of Mount Everest. The circular, purple plastic case contains powdered steroids that you inhale. The steroids then directly affect the respiratory system without having the nasty systemic effects of other steroids. It’s most effective against the dry, hacking high-altitude cough that often strikes on bigger peaks. It’s not for pulmonary edema or ‘wet’ coughs. It’s not needed on trips to the USA or Canada and one of these is enough for a small expedition. Take along an albuterol inhaler as well. You should buy these in the USA. The Advair is not cheap but you won’t care about the cost if you actually need it. Both require prescription and unfortunately you won’t find any scientific research to back up my recommendation.

The Khumbu cough in action above Dingboche, Nepal

I mention Viagra/Cialis in the book. You should carry some in case somebody develops high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and you don’t feel comfortable administering Nifedipine. Nifedipine can cause a catastrophic decrease in blood pressure and the patient must be properly monitored as the drug is given. Viagra and Cialis don’t cause this systemic drop in blood pressure but still may reduce pulmonary pressures. Unfortunately at least 20% of the population won’t respond to Viagra/Cialis so it’s not a magical cure. Definitely buy these drugs in the USA/Canada.

There are other medications for high-altitude illness, gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections, etc. etc. so this is not a complete listing.

For these and any other drugs you carry, keep them in the original containers with your name on it if your transporting it to another country. Package to drugs carefully as transport can turn pills to powder. And ask the pharmacist for the original instructions that came with the medication—not the printout that they normally give you these days. The original sheet will have all of the side effects, contraindications, interaction warnings, and so on.


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