INTRODUCTION: Acetazolamide (AZM) is used for various conditions (eg, altitude sickness, sleep apnoea, glaucoma), but therapy is often limited by its side effect profile. Our objective was to estimate the risk of commonly reported side effects based on meta-analyses. We hypothesised that these risks are dose-dependent. METHODS: We queried MEDLINE/EMBASE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online/Excerpta Medica dataBASE) up until 04/10/2019, including any randomised placebo-controlled trial in which adults received oral AZM versus placebo reporting side effects. Eligibility assessment was performed by two independent reviewers. Data were abstracted by one reviewer who verified key entries at a second time point. For side effects reported by 3 studies a pooled effect estimate was calculated, and heterogeneity assessed via I; for outcomes reported by 5 studies effect modification by total daily dose (EMbyTDD; <400 mg/d, 400-600 mg/d, >600 mg/d) was assessed via meta-regression. For pre-specified, primary outcomes (paraesthesias, taste disturbances, polyuria and fatigue) additional subgroup analyses were performed using demographics, intervention details, laboratory changes and risk of bias. RESULTS: We included 42 studies in the meta-analyses (N=1274/1211 in AZM/placebo groups). AZM increased the risk of all primary outcomes (p<0.01, I ≤16% and low-to-moderate quality of evidence for all)-the numbers needed to harm (95% CI; n) for each were: paraesthesias 2.3 (95% CI 2 to 2.7; n=39), dysgeusia 18 (95% CI 10 to 38, n=22), polyuria 17 (95% CI 9 to 49; n=22), fatigue 11 (95% CI 6 to 24; n=14). The risk for paraesthesias (beta=1.8 (95% CI 1.1 to 2.9); P=0.01) and dysgeusia (beta=3.1 (95% CI 1.2 to 8.2); P=0.02) increased with higher AZM doses; the risk of fatigue also increased with higher dose but non-significantly (beta=2.6 (95% CI 0.7 to 9.4); P=0.14). DISCUSSION: This comprehensive meta-analysis of low-to-moderate quality evidence defines risk of common AZM side effects and corroborates dose dependence of some side effects. These results may inform clinical decision making and support efforts to establish the lowest effective dose of AZM for various conditions.
Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA firstname.lastname@example.org.Full article