Altitude Sickness Medicine at Walgreens: Helping You Climb to New Heights

Altitude Sickness Medicine at Walgreens

Are you planning a trip to a high altitude destination? Whether you're hitting the slopes, going climbing, or exploring a new city nestled in the mountains, it's important to be prepared for the potential of altitude sickness. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at the different types of altitude sickness medicine at Walgreens, as well as provide some ways to stop altitude sickness naturally.

Altitude Sickness Medicine At Walgreens

Altitude sickness can be a major inconvenience for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. If you didn't prepare and need a last minute remedy, or want to know what you can conveniently get at Walgreens, we'll lay out your best options below.

Walgreen's selection includes both prescription and over-the-counter altitude sickness medicine options to suit your specific needs. Whether you're looking to prevent altitude sickness before it starts or need relief from symptoms like headache and nausea, you can find what you need at Walgreens.

What Causes Altitude Sickness?

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness, is caused by a lack of oxygen at high altitudes. The higher you go, the less oxygen there is in the air. 

If you ascend too quickly, the body won't adjust fast enough, and the symptoms of altitude sickness can begin to develop including headache, fatigue, and nausea. These symptoms can typically start within 6-24 hours upon arrival at high altitudes.

Symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling ill
  • Difficulty sleeping

We'll reveal the best altitude sickness medicine below to combat these symptoms that you can find at a local Walgreens.

4 Best Altitude Sickness Medicine At Walgreens

Walgreens is a great spot for last-minute altitude sickness medicine or prescription drugs.

Below we'll details the best options you can find at Walgreens. 

Here's the four best altitude sickness medicines at Walgreens:

1. Advil (OTC)

Ibuprofen, also known by the brand name Advil, is a common over-the-counter medication used to treat a variety of ailments, including altitude sickness.

Advil can be effective in relieving the headache, nausea, and other discomfort associated with altitude sickness. It works by reducing inflammation and swelling in the body, which can help to alleviate the pain and pressure caused by acute mountain sickness (AMS).

Advil (Ibuprofen) benefits:

  • Ibuprofen was found to "significantly reduce the incidence of altitude sickness" based on a study done in the White Mountains California on 86 volunteers.¹
  • Researchers hypothesize that Ibuprofen is effective due to possibility helping the swelling that is caused by high altitudes
Being an over-the-counter altitude sickness drug versus a prescription, combined with scientific research to back up it's effectiveness, we rank Advil in the top options.

Advil (Ibuprofen) dosage: 600 milligrams of ibuprofen 3 times a day is what was used by the Stanford study.¹ This is not medical advice, please consult a doctor or medical professional for dosage recommendations and advice.

2. Motrin (OTC)

Motrin is another brand name for the over-the-counter medication ibuprofen, which shows benefits in altitude sickness.

Ibuprofen, such as Motrin, is an anti-inflammatory drug that reduces swelling and pain.  This can help reduce headaches, nausea and stomach upset caused by high altitudes ─ also can relieve pain associated with muscle cramps or strains that can occur while exercising at high altitudes.

Motrin (Ibuprofen) benefits:

  • Hikers in a study taking Ibuprofen shows less symptoms of headache, nausea and dizziness
  • Stanford research says that Ibuprofen can prevent cases of altitude sickness 26% of the time
Just like Advil, Motrin is an over-the-counter drug, making it another top pick for altitude sickness medicine.

Motrin (Ibuprofen) dosage: Based on the Stanford study, 600 mg of Ibuprofen were used 3 times a day. This is not medical advice, please consult a doctor or medical professional for dosage recommendations and advice.

3. Dexamethasone (prescription)

Dexamethasone is a steroid hormone that suppresses the immune system, helps with inflammation, and is shown to help with altitude sickness.

Dexamethasone helps relieve symptoms of altitude sickness such as headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and dizziness. It's among two common altitude sickness prescription medications, including acetazolamide, although in research had slightly better results.

Dexamethasone benefits:

  • A Japan study proved dexamethasone to reduce altitude sickness symptoms by 63%
  • In a study comparing acetazolamide, those taking dexamethasone for altitude sickness showed less headache, nausea, tiredness and feeling more refreshed.⁶
While dexamethasone is a prescription drug available at Walgreens pharmacy which can't be quickly picked up like Advil and Motrin, it shows significant prevention for altitude sickness.

Dexamethasone (Ibuprofen) dosage: The study from Japan used 4 mg of dexamethasone per every 6 hours. This is not medical advice, please consult a doctor or medical professional for dosage recommendations and advice.

4. Acetazolamide (prescription)

As the last on the list for altitude sickness medicine at Walgreens, Acetazolamide is commonly used for altitude sickness, also known by the brand name Diamox.

Acetazolamide altitude sickness medicine works to lower respiratory alkalosis due to high altitudes by acidifying the blood, which therefore increases oxygenation and respiration.⁷ This leads to helping acclimatization and helping to prevent altitude sickness if taken beforehand.

Acetazolamide (Diamox) benefits:

  • The CDC reports that acetazolamide can prevent acute mountain sickness when taken before ascending a mountain and can also quicken high altitude recovery.⁷
  • The Journal of Travel Medicine reports research that acetazolamide is very effective in altitude sickness prevention, thereby reducing the risk of high altitude illness
Just like dexamethasone, acetazolamide must been prescribed by a doctor which makes it inconvenient to quickly grab at Walgreens, however it shows scientific results.

Acetazolamide dosage: According to the CDC, an effective dose that also minimizes common side effects like increased urination is 125 mg every 12 hours. This is not medical advice, please consult a doctor or medical professional for dosage recommendations and advice.

To conclude this list of the best altitude sickness medicine at Walgreens ─ the products available include Advil (Ibuprofen), Motrin (Ibuprofen), Dexamethasone, and Acetazolamide (Diamox).


How Do You Stop Altitude Sickness Naturally?

In addition to proper acclimatization and hydration, there are a number of other natural remedies that may help to stop or avoid altitude sickness. These include:

  • Glutathione: Research out of India showed this antioxidant to deplete at high altitudes up to 45%, and by supplementing you can replace glutathione and fight oxidative stress.⁹
  • Ginkgo Biloba: This cherished herb was found to lower incidence of altitude sickness in climbers in Chile at 12125 feet.¹¹
  • Glutamine: This powerful amino acid used in sports supplements was proven to help with cognition and mood with hypoxia, which is lowered oxygen from high altitudes.¹⁰ 
  • Ginger: Ginger is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and may naturally help ease an upset stomach or nausea related to high altitudes.¹³
  • DHM (Dihydromyricetin): This flavonoid that comes from a plant popularly known in Asia, has been found to enhance high altitude physical performance.¹²

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1. Ibuprofen decreases likelihood of altitude sickness, researchers find
2. Ibuprofen Can Prevent Altitude Sickness
3. Dexamethasone in the Treatment of Acute Mountain Sickness
4. Dexamethasone for prevention and treatment of acute mountain sickness
5. Multimodal analysis of the effects of dexamethasone on high-altitude cerebral oedema: protocol for a pilot study
6. A randomized trial of dexamethasone and acetazolamide for acute mountain sickness prophylaxis
7. High-Altitude Travel & Altitude Illness
8.The use of acetazolamide for the prevention of high-altitude illness
9. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione and related metabolism in rats
10. The Possible Importance of Glutamine Supplementation to Mood and Cognition in Hypoxia from High Altitude
11. Ginkgo biloba decreases acute mountain sickness in people ascending to high altitude at Ollagüe (3696 m) in northern Chile
12. Dihydromyricetin Improves Physical Performance under Simulated High Altitude
13. The Downside of Altitude