Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Successful treatment of acute mountain sickness with dexamethasone.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 30 May 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:1380
  1. G Ferrazzini,
  2. M Maggiorini,
  3. S Kriemler,
  4. P Bärtsch,
  5. O Oelz


    A double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial of treatment with dexamethasone for acute mountain sickness was performed in the Capanna "Regina Margherita" at an altitude of 4559 m in the Alps Valais. After 12-16 hours of treatment (8 mg dexamethasone initially, followed by 4 mg every six hours) the mean acute mountain sickness score decreased significantly from 5.4 to 1.3, and eight of 17 patients became totally asymptomatic. Mean arterial oxygen saturation rose from 75.5% to 82.0%, and there was a small increase in standard spirometric measurements. In the placebo group none of these variables changed significantly. It is concluded that dexamethasone may be used as emergency treatment for acute mountain sickness to facilitate safe descent to a lower altitude.