Do Rolaids Help With Altitude Sickness?

Do Rolaids Help With Altitude Sickness?

Most people understand that using antacids such as Rolaids help with common ailments. But do Rolaids help with altitude sickness as well? It is a common topic of discussion amongst avid hikers, climbers, and skiers. Let's find out if Rolaids can help by doing some research and analysis.

What are Rolaids?

Rolaids is an antacid that provides fast relief from heartburn and indigestion. It contains a combination of three ingredients: calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, and simethicone. These compounds work together to neutralize acid in the stomach. Rolaids is used to treat upset stomach, heartburn, and indigestion caused by overeating, eating spicy foods, or drinking alcohol.

Unlike supplements for altitude sickness, Rolaids instead is available over-the-counter (OTC) and comes in the following forms: tablets, chewables and liquid.

Do Rolaids help with altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness is caused by a lack of oxygen at high altitudes (generally above 8,000 feet). It occurs most often when people who are unaccustomed to high altitudes go quickly from lower altitudes to higher ones (for example, when hiking up a mountain). The reduced amount of oxygen at these altitudes cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and feelings of sickness.

So do Rolaids help with altitude sickness? While altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can be uncomfortable, it's not caused by excess stomach acid and therefore cannot be treated with Rolaids or any other type of antacid. The short answer is Rolaids do not help with altitude sickness.

Even science shows Rolaids do not help with altitude sickness, as with this study:

  • A study on 45 climbers at Mt. Rainier Washington was done to show if antacids could help acute mountain sickness. The results failed to prove efficacy for the prevention of acute mountain sickness by using antacids, with no difference in severity from placebo and antacid-treated groups.

In conclusion, although there's some antidotal stories that Rolaids can help with altitude sickness, none of the science shows it's true. Give it and try and see, the only thing we can see it helping with is an upset stomach and possibly nausea, but even that is scientifically unclear.

If you want to know more on altitude sickness prevention, read How To Avoid Altitude Sickness or How to Prevent Altitude Sickness Naturally.

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1. Acute mountain sickness, antacids, and ventilation during rapid, active ascent of Mount Rainier