Ann Conkle
Mar 20, 2012

Ibuprofen decreases likelihood of altitude sickness

"A really nasty hangover" is how Grant Lipman, a clinical assistant professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, describes the feeling of acute mountain sickness, and for good reason: Symptoms can include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and poor appetite. More than 25 percent of the millions of Americans who travel to high elevations each year, often to hike, camp or ski, will suffer from this condition, also known as altitude illness. But a new study has found that ibuprofen may help. Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medication commonly used as a painkiller, was found to significantly reduce the incidence of altitude sickness in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 86 men and women, according to the study, which will be published in Annals of Emergency Medicine. Acute mountain sickness can do more than just make life miserable: If left unrecognized or untreated, it can lead to high-altitude cerebral edema, an often-fatal swelling of the brain.