I have heard that Viagra is effective for altitude sickness. Is this true?
Viagra is best known as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. But there are reports that it has off-label uses in treating a number of other conditions, including pulmonary hypertension (elevated blood pressure in the artery to the lungs).
People who climb mountains may develop high-altitude pulmonary edema, which can be quite dangerous. In this condition, fluid accumulates in the lungs and makes breathing difficult. The sufferer may have rapid heart rate, shallow, rapid breaths and start to turn blue. Drugs such as Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) can increase nitric oxide levels in the blood vessels of the lungs and help them relax, according to a 2010 report in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. This can reduce the fluid that is leaking into the lungs.
Don't try to treat yourself for altitude sickness, but discuss this issue with your doctor before you travel, since such drugs have side effects.