Prospective Double-Blinded Randomized Field-Based Clinical Trial of Metoclopramide and Ibuprofen for the Treatment of High Altitude Headache and Acute Mountain Sickness

Hillary R. Irons, Renee N. Salas, Salman F. Bhai, W. Douglas Gregorie, N. Stuart Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: High altitude headache (HAH) and acute mountain sickness (AMS) are common pathologies at high altitudes. There are similarities between AMS and migraine headaches, with nausea being a common symptom. Several studies have shown ibuprofen can be effective for AMS prophylaxis, but few have addressed treatment. Metoclopramide is commonly administered for migraine headaches but has not been evaluated for HAH or AMS. We aimed to evaluate metoclopramide and ibuprofen for treatment of HAH and AMS. Methods: We performed a prospective, double-blinded, randomized, field-based clinical trial of metoclopramide and ibuprofen for the treatment of HAH and AMS in 47 adult subjects in the Mount Everest region of Nepal. Subjects received either 400 mg ibuprofen or 10 mg metoclopramide in a 1-time dose. Lake Louise Score (LLS) and visual analog scale of symptoms were measured before and at 30, 60, and 120 min after treatment. Results: Subjects in both the metoclopramide and ibuprofen arms reported reduced headache severity and nausea compared to pretreatment values at 120 min. The ibuprofen group reported 22 mm reduction in headache and 6 mm reduction in nausea on a 100 mm visual analog scale at 120 min. The metoclopramide group reported 23 mm reduction in headache and 14 mm reduction in nausea. The ibuprofen group reported an average 3.5-point decrease on LLS, whereas the metoclopramide group reported an average 2.0-point decrease on LLS at 120 min. Conclusions: Metoclopramide and ibuprofen may be effective alternative treatment options in HAH and AMS, especially for those patients who additionally report nausea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Nepal Himalayas
  • high altitude illness
  • hypobaric hypoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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