Is Dexamethasone Good For Mountain Climbing


Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has been described as a successful way to counteract the coronavirus’s symptoms. Dexamethasone decreases the risk of death from 40 to 28 percent in patients on mechanical ventilators. However, it reduced the risk of death from 25 to 20 percent in patients who required oxygen, according to a University of Oxford report.

Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute mountain sickness is rare to occur beyond 2440 meters, although it does develop at lower elevations in certain very vulnerable people. At least one of the following conditions characterizes it: exhaustion, stomach symptoms (anorexia, nausea, vomiting), and constant dizziness. Sleep deprivation was once thought to be a sign of severe mountain sickness, although it is no longer one medical condition. Symptoms occur 6 to 10 hours after rising in altitude and typically vanish within 24 to 48 hours. Acute mountain sickness is prevalent in ski resorts, although some people wrongly blame it on too much alcohol (hangover) or a viral infection.

Dexamethasone Used Preventively

Two plastic containers filled with food

Dexamethasone is a virtually common medication in the great mountains and is used in nearly every mountaineer’s medication cabinet. It has been widely accepted as the most common treatment for edema symptoms for many decades, with almost remarkable effects that have undeniably saved lives. Ferran Latorre used this beneficial use as a therapy on the north face of Everest last season, when he delivered an immediate dose of dexamethasone to Sherpa Dawa, eventually bringing him back to life and enabling him to descend from 8,300 meters.

Use For Faster Ascents

Parallel to its usage as an emergency treatment; there has been a trend to use this corticosteroid as a preventative help for quicker climbs. The World Anti-Doping Agency has outlawed this drug, widely used to manage anything from cancers to asthma. According to an investigation by the American publication Outside, several non-specialist mountain physicians and even certified mountain guides urge their clients to take dexamethasone to enable them to ascend quicker.

Dangers Of Using Dexamethasone

A man standing in front of a large rock

However, in more than one instance, this proactive usage to increase results has proved risky and even deadly. Jesse Easterling, an inexperienced mountaineer from the United States, talked with Outside Magazine regarding his severe side effects from dexamethasone while trying to ascend Mount Everest in 2009. Easterling, a 27-year-old insurance salesman and fantastic athlete, was administered massive quantities of the drug by his psychiatrist, culminating in an adrenal reaction and psychotic episodes, placing him on the edge of death for three weeks in Kathmandu hospital’s intensive care unit. He now faces physical consequences as a result of the incident.

Final Words

While there are few voices publicly discussing cheating in the great mountains, it is understood that, in contrast to dexamethasone, other medications such as Diamox are used, which aid in the acclimatization process. It’s still no mystery that amphetamines were used in the early eighth century. Others argue that other drugs, such as the well-known Viagra or Cialis (which relieve pulmonary-arterial pressure) or the notorious EPO (famous in the cycling world), are often used.

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