Sea Sickness and How to prevent it

Looking forward to your first cruise ship adventure or boating adventure ? or its your first voyage as a cadet on the ship? Sea sickness is one of the most common issues faced by many new seafarers or boating enthusiasts during their initial sailings/voyages at sea. In this article we place before you, answers to common questions about sea sickness.

What is Sea sickness ?

The dictionary explains sea sickness as Motion sickness resulting from the pitching and rolling of a ship or boat in water, especially at sea. Sea sickness occurs when the parts of the inner ear that help control balance (including the semicircular canals) get stimulated too much in situations when we experience excessive motion. It can also occur in situations when our brain receives contradictory information from the motion sensors- the eyes the semicircular canals and the muscle sensors, which makes our brain confused. Sea sickness is generally found to be more common in women and also in children in the age groups of 2-12 years. Women are more sensitive to sea sickness than men, by a ratio of about 5:3 ( Cheung, B. and K. Hofer , 2002). Individuals suffering from migraine headaches are more prone to sea sickness.

A few facts reported during different Research studies carried out on Sea Sickness:

  • 100% of occupants of life rafts will vomit in rough seas.
  • For vertical motion (heave), oscillation at a frequency of about 0.2 hz is the most provocative.Motion at 1 Hz is less than 1/10th as provocative.
  • 7% of seagoing passengers report vomiting during a journey (Lawther and Griffin, 1988).
What are the symptoms of sea sickness ?

The symptoms of a person feeling sea sick normally include dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and a general feeling of discomfort or not feeling well. Symptoms may progress from simply not feeling well to cold sweats, dizziness, and then vomiting.

How can we prevent sea sickness or minimize sea sickness?
  • 99 % of sea sickness comes from our minds, its about how we think. Even the best and the most experienced of seafarers at times can feel sea sick, but you can avoid this by believing and continuously telling yourselves that you don't get sea sick.
  • Avoid alcohol, greasy, spicy foods and acidic foods before and during your voyage. Eat bland foods such as plain crackers, bread, or toast to keep something in your stomach. Do not skip eating but do not overeat. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Have good sleep the evening before you go to sea. Being overtired can make you more susceptible to sea sickness.
  • To extent possible try remaining on deck in the fresh air.Avoid remaining in the lower decks
  • Sea sickness is often caused by bad smells or even pleasant smells, like that of a good perfume.
  • Keep your eyes on the horizon.
  • Always try to Position yourself amidships. This is the middle section of the ship where you will experience the least motion.
  • Keep yourself warm during the cold days and cool during the hot days.
  • Don't smoke and keep away from those who smoke.
  • Avoid others who have become nauseous with sea sickness. Seeing and smelling others who have sea sickness may cause you too to become sea sick.
  • Avoid using the binoculars for longer periods
  • Avoid reading books or using the computer.If avoiding the computer is un avoidable then you may try using a program that reads the text aloud to avoid fixing your eyes on the screen.
  • Reduce sensory inputs by lying down with your eyes closed (you may chose to listen to your iPod!) or take a nap. This is often the best remedy.
  • If you still fear, take preventative drugs well before venturing into the rough seas so it has time to work, they are not effective after you are sick. Some of the most commonly used Over The Counter Drugs are Dramamine and Bonine . As they contain antihistamines this makes you feel drowsy so, if you are at sea to work, make sure you look out for the non-drowsy types of drugs. However in all cases you need to consult your Medical Practitioner before consuming any of the medications.


Some of the Non-pharmaceutical remedies :

  • Wrist Bands - Anti-Sea sickness wrist bands come in two varieties; acupressure and magnetic. They work on the principle of applying pressure or magnets to a pressure point located on the underside of the arm about an inch and a half above the wrist.
  • Scopolamine patches - Scopolamine patches can be worn behind the ear which looks similar to small band-aids which contain small amounts of medicine which gets secreted into the skin. They are one of the popular prescription drug for seasickness and they also come in pill form. But also be aware that the prolonged use of the patch - for weeks at a time - can lead to hallucinations.




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