The effects of respiratory inhaled drugs on the prevention of acute mountain sickness

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Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is common in high-altitude travelers, and may lead to life-threatening high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). The inhaled drugs have a much lower peak serum concentrations and a shorter half-life period than oral drugs, which give them a special character, greater local effects in the lung. Meanwhile, short-term administration of inhaled drugs results in almost no adverse reactions.


We chose inhaled ipratropium bromide/salbutamol sulfate (combivent, COM), budesonide (pulmicortrespules, BUD), and salbutamol sulfate (ventolin, VEN) in our study to investigate their prophylactic efficacy against AMS. Since COM is a compound drug of ipratropium bromide and salbutamol sulfate, to verify which part of COM plays a role in the prevention of AMS, we also tested VEN in our experiment.


In our study, Lake Louise scores (LLS) in the COM (1.14 ± 0.89 vs 1.91 ± 1.23, P < .05) and BUD (1.35 ± 0.94 vs 1.91 ± 1.23, P < .05) groups were both significantly lower than the placebo group at 72 hours. There were no significant differences in LLS scores among the 4 groups at 120 hours. The incidence of AMS in the COM group was significantly reduced at 72 hours (16.7% in COM group vs 43.4% in placebo group, P < .05) after exposure to high-altitude. There were no significant differences in AMS incidences at 120 hours among the 4 groups.


The prophylactic use of COM could prevent AMS in young Chinese male at 72 hours after high-altitude exposure. BUD also could reduce LLS but not prevent AMS at 72 hours. Ipratropium bromide maybe the effective drug in COM work on the prevention of AMS alone.

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