Viagra works by expanding blood vessels in the penile organ, allowing more blood to inflow. The drug does this by inhibiting an enzyme that is responsible for suppressing relaxation processes. Interestingly, the drug may provide useful effect not only in the penis, but in the lungs which also contain the abovementioned enzyme. Due to this, Viagra is sometimes used to fight mountain (altitude) sickness.
What is Altitude Disease?
Altitude sickness (may be also called altitude hypoxia) is a non-pleasant condition linked to oxygen deficiency due to a serious decrease in the content of oxygen (O) in the inhaled air, which may develop when climbing mountains, as well as when flying on aircraft which has no airtight cabin (this also concerns hang gliding, paragliding, balloon flights), starting with about 2000 km and higher.
A variation of altitude sickness is mountain sickness, in the development of which, along with the deficit of oxygen, such extra factors as severe physical exhaustion, cooling, dehydration of the organism, exposure to UV radiation, unfriendly weather conditions (hurricane winds, etc.), sharp temperature drops during the day (from +30 ° C in the daytime to —20 ° C at night), etc. matter. But the cornerstone of this sickness is hypoxia, a condition in which the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.
Here are some drugs that help relieve the symptoms of mountain sickness:
- Acetazolamide (Diamox, Cetamoks, Acemit) reduces intracranial pressure and allows for alleviating the symptoms that occur during mountain sickness,
- Dexamethasone reduces the severity of acute mountain sickness which occurs when climbers ascend sharply to heights above 4000 m.
- Bendazol is a vasodilator with adaptogenic properties (half of a 10 mg tablet), however, this drug is available only in some European countries.
Viagra for Mountain Sickness
The administration of the President of South Korea has confirmed the purchase of 360 Viagra tablets for government needs in December 2015. It clarifies that the tablets should have been sent to President Park Geun-hye’s assistants, as well as to other officials for treating mountain sickness during the May trips to Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya — the capitals of these states are located at the height of 1-2 kilometers above sea level.
The fact is that Korean doctors really believe that Viagra is capable of treating mountain sickness, and their opinion is not unreasonable.
According to posts on Livejournal (Russian-speaking forum), all guides in Chamonix (French Alps) carry around Viagra, as it improves peripheral blood circulation (not only in the penis but also in the lungs) to relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness.
What Do Scientists Say?
Andrew R. Hsu, Kimberly E. Barnholt, Nicolas K. Grundmann (Stanford University School of Medicine, 2006) reported that sildenafil improved sports performance when exercising at high altitudes.
Participants in that study (trained cyclists) had to cover the 6-kilometer distance, breathing in rarefied oxygen. The volunteers were under the conditions corresponding to 3,900 m above sea level.
At the end of the tests, it turned out that four out of ten participants who took Viagra improved their own results by more than a third, having covered the distance much faster than usual.
Taking this drug did not affect the results of the ride at sea level. In addition, none of the participants complained about the appearance of an erection.
However, according to Bates MG, Thompson AA, Baillie JK et al. at Newcastle University (2011), obtained data didn’t support routine prophylactic administration of Viagra to reduce PASP at high altitude in healthy persons with no history of high altitude pulmonary edema.
Should You Use Viagra for Mountain Sickness?
In this case, it is better to consult a doctor, especially if you are a newcomer to mountain hiking or mountaineering. It must be borne in mind that there is still no sufficient scientific justification of this.
So far, the drug has no official indications such as “symptoms of altitude sickness.” But who knows, perhaps in the future, low doses of Viagra will be approved for preventing or treating altitude sickness.
What about Cialis?
Cialis is probably the most known competitor of Viagra. It contains tadalafil, an active component, which belongs to the same pharmaceutical group as Viagra. Therefore, it should have similar properties in terms of treating diseases. Surely, Cialis is effective for ED. Regarding mountain (altitude) sickness, theoretically, it may also be helpful. The evidence data is somewhat similar to that of Viagra. For instance, Maggiorini M, Brunner-La Rocca HP, Peth S et al. (Université de Bruxelles, 2006) concluded that both Cialis and dexamethasone, a type of corticosteroid medication, might decrease the incidence of high-altitude pulmonary edema.
However, like in the case of Viagra, there is no sufficient adequate scientific evidence in this case. Therefore, do not self-medicate, take Viagra and Cialis for its intended purpose – for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (if you suffer from this problem).
If you want to learn some facts about Viagra – how it can be helpful for you (besides providing its basic effect, i.e. improving erection) – read this article. Did you know that Viagra (or rather its active component) can help to treat angina and pulmonary hypertension? Or that alpinists use it to prevent altitude sickness, while bodybuilders pump their muscles with Viagra?
So, let’s start with the logical beginning: what is Viagra, exactly?
Original Viagra is a powerful and the most known helper in fighting male erectile dysfunction. This name, however, belongs only to Pfizer, which is a pioneer in its commercialization. There is abundance of generics on the pharmaceutical markets however, not all of them are safe and reliable. Some of the most known and trusted names include Kamagra, Kamagra Gold, Viagra Professional, and Viagra Super Active. However, the quality of drugs also depends on their supplier, as some pharmacies cooperate with unreliable generic drug-makers, which produce medicines in underground facilities.
The medicine is definitely a more convenient method than surgery, devices, and intracavernous injections. It can be said with absolute certainty that it has revolutionized ED treatment. Millions of men worldwide get safe and comfortable remedy for handling their intimate problems.
The history of Viagra dates back to 1980s and 1990s. At that time, when testing drugs for cardiovascular disease, a research company found that sildenafil provided a very strong erection as a “side effect” in volunteers with heart problems. So, some of unrenowned effects of Viagra are associated with this fact.
Extra Benefits of Viagra
While Viagra itself is the best known chemical potency booster, it has many other effects, you may know nothing about…
1. Viagra May be Good for Heart
Branded Viagra was developed by Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical giant with great trustability. The company, as previously mentioned, tested it for heart diseases. However, after revealing a positive (and unexpected) erectile effect, studies in cardiovascular direction were stopped. Researchers switched to more promising (and more profitable) vector of studying the substance. The useful effect for heart was virtually forgotten.
However, some enthusiasts continued heart-related studies. Das A, Durrant D, Salloum FN (Virginia Commonwealth University, 2015) examined works regarding the use of Viagra for treating cardiovascular diseases. They concluded that despite mixed results of the studies, there was a continuing keen interest by scientists and clinical investigators is examining new benefits in this area. So, theoretically, Viagra may become a therapeutic remedy for heart disease.
It is important! Intake of sildenafil is associated with severe risks in patients taking organic nitrates (such as nitroglycerine, isosorbide dinitrate, etc.). So, don’t experiment with Viagra to treat angina, especially if you are taking nitrate drugs.
2. The Medicine Can Help with Altitude Sickness
Several years ago, during anti-corruption investigations in South Korea, an interesting fact was discovered: the mass purchase of Viagra by the presidential administration. However, as officials explained, the drug was not intended for sexual pleasure during working hours. It was used to treat mountain sickness among presidential assistants during their visit to Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia in May 2016, which are at an altitude of 1000-2000 km above sea level (staying in these countries is fraught with the development of mountain sickness in untrained people). It turned out that Korean doctors often prescribed Viagra, sildenafil-based generics and other drugs of this group to climbers, as they helped the body to adapt to high altitude conditions.
3. A New Option for Raynaud’s Phenomenon?
As reported by Wikipedia, Raynaud syndrome (Raynaud’s phenomenon) is a medical condition in which spasm of arteries lead to episodes of reduced blood flow. These episodes cause body parts’ or skin areas’ whitening and then bluing. Say, people affected by the attack of this syndrome, may sometimes have two fingers white and the rest red (pink) on the hand. The lifestyle of these patients is somewhat restricted; they should always wear warm clothes. When they feel that the attack is coming, they may prevent it by performing fast movements with with arms, etc. Smoking is strictly prohibited for them. Surely, the phenomenon creates a bunch of inconveniences which may prevent normal living.
4. Sildenafil is Approved Remedy for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
You may not know, but a well-known drug Revatio, which is successfully used for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH, a rare but debilitating disease), is also based on sildenafil. This active substance causes a relaxing effect on pulmonary arteries, as PDE5 enzyme is also present in the lungs. In case of its blockage, cyclic guanine monophosphate substance cannot be destroyed. It remains inside the vessels and provides a vasodilating effect. This leads to drop in arterial blood pressure (in the lungs) and improvement of PAH symptoms.
PAH prevalence is just about 10 to 52 cases per million. But fortunately, PAH sufferers have an access to the relatively cheap drug, which is not considered an orphan (commercially undeveloped) one.
5. Viagra for Better Muscle Pump
Some athletes use the drug to increase endurance in long workouts, to achieve new records. With careful use and compliance with the dosage you can actually improve your performance. In sports, Viagra acts as a type of nitric oxide donor, which contributes to better pumping. With a minimal presence of side effects, the drug also has a positive effect on the heart and slightly reduces the rate of blood pressure. Unlike anabolic steroids and some other performance-enhancing drugs, Viagra does not affect the body detrimentally. However, keep in mind that this is an unauthorized use of the drug (there are no official recommendations on this matter).
And last but not least. Just remember, Viagra doesn’t act miraculously. It won’t increase your libido by itself, as it has no aphrodisiacal effect. However, it is a powerful potency enhancer, which facilitates healthy processes of blood flow in the penis, thereby providing hard and stable erection.