Seasickness is often considered the most commonly encountered sickness for people at sea. So, if you are considering a career at Sea, it is important that you know what seasickness is and prepare yourself to deal with it. The symptoms of Seasickness include nausea, fatigue and dizziness. As a sailor you cannot afford to suffer from seasickness day-in-and-day-out, as sea is where the work is. Seasickness is usually more common among people travelling by sea for the first time or during storms and bad weather conditions. So, if you are about to start your journey as a seafarer, you need to prepare to deal with seasickness. Having said that note that I am a experienced seafarer, sailing for over 12 yrs in high seas, but still fall sea sick occasionally in heavy rolling.
Here are some tips on how you can deal with it.
- Prevention is better than cure. A day before your ship sets sail, avoid eating oily and spicy food. Control the diet.
- Don’t drink Alcohol. Anyway on board mariners aren’t allowed to drink. So, make sure to not indulge in drink a night before either.
- Take Preventive Medicines. If you know you tend to get seasick, consult a doctor and take some medicine before boarding. However, medicines may have side effects like making you feel drowsy.
- Think you aren’t sick. Believe it or not, but it works. Keep telling yourself that you are fit and you’ll start feeling better.
- Aim your sight at the Horizon. While at sea, everything is moving, the only thing stable is the horizon. So, looking at the horizon helps you feel stable and overcome nausea and dizziness.
- Avoid Strong Smells. Doesn’t matter if it’s pleasant or unpleasant a strong fume can exaggerate the effects of seasickness. So, move towards fresh air and avoid spraying yourself with strong smelling perfumes and deodorants.
- Don’t look at others who are sick. One sure shot way to trigger vomiting is looking at others who are vomiting. So, stay clear of those retching and puking.
- Oils and Bands. Many people also recommend anti-nausea seasickness stretchable bands. You can try these as they work by applying a little pressure or stimulation to the acupressure points on your wrists. Some oils are also available as medication for seasickness.
- Listen to music. Plug ear phones and listen to relaxing music. This can help you overcome the swaying motion of the vessel and prevent seasickness.
- If you don’t need to work, go to your cabin and relax. Lying down with closed eyes for some time or even sleeping can help you relax and avoid the initial seasickness.
- Ginger is considered a good tool to fight seasickness. Chew a piece of ginger or have some ginger tea. They might help.
- Try some juice. Lime, apricot, carrot, mint are some of the plants whose juice is considered good for preventing seasickness. Try some.
Common symptoms …
Dizziness, fatigue, and nausea [nausea, from the Greek term naus – meaning ship]. A paleness of the skin may be followed by yawning, restlessness, and a cold sweat. As the symptoms progress, malaise and drowsiness set in, sometimes accompanied by an upset stomach.
Common situations that lead to sea sickness …
Motion sickness is more likely to occur with complex types of movement, especially movement that is slow or involves two different directions (for example, vertical and horizontal) at the same time.
Poor ventilation caused by gas fumes and smoke, and emotional factors such as fear and anxiety often act together to bring on an attack of motion sickness;
When it comes to a cruise, for example, in the Galapagos Islands …You should strongly consider a more stable vessel – these being the large capacity cruise ships, and heavy motor catamarans;
The wider and heavier the vessel, the more stable it is; conversely, the narrower and lighter the vessel the more unstable it is. Ideally you want to locate yourself as low down and and central (from front to back, and from side to side) of the boat as possible – this is the spot that you will feel less movement.
Women are more sensitive to motion sickness than men, and pregnant women are especially at risk for motion sickness.
Children are commonly affected. The peak incidence for the development of motion sickness is 12 years; infants and children under two are generally not affected.
Persons who suffer from migraine headaches are at increased risk for motion sickness.
Supposed causes have been chalked up to an INNER EAR DISTURBANCE – basically what one feels and what one sees do not match. Some claim that when feeling motion but not seeing it (for example, in a ship with no windows), the inner ear transmits to the brain that it senses motion, but the eyes tell the brain that everything is still. As a result of the disconcordance, the brain will come to the conclusion that one of them is hallucinating and further conclude that the hallucination is due to poison ingestion. The brain responds by inducing vomiting, to clear the supposed toxin.
Not serious, but very unpleasant
Motion sickness is usually caused by a disturbance of the body’s balance system: The motion you see is different from the motion sensed by the vestibular system of your inner ear.
Anyone can get motion sickness, although children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.
While rarely serious, it can make travelling unpleasant due to the nausea, sweating, and dizziness that typically results. Definitely not a great way to start or end a holiday!
There are steps you can take, along with medication, to prevent motion sickness or reduce its symptoms.
If motion sickness strikes, try the following:
– Change seats/cabins. You are less likely to experience motion sickness in a train’s forward cars, in the wing seats on a plane, or on the ship’s upper deck. On a cruise ship, ask if you can transfer to a central cabin.
– If you are travelling by car, do the driving or travel in the front passenger seat. (Drivers rarely experience motion sickness: it’s also more common among back-seat passengers.)
– Sit down and face forward. Use the headrest or a pillow to keep your head still and your eyes fixed on the horizon.
– Don’t look at moving objects, read a book, or use a mobile phone.
– Stand up if you start to feel queasy.
If you are already prone to motion sickness you should:
– Eat a small meal before you begin your journey, but avoid greasy foods.
– Follow up with small, light snacks (such as dry crackers) during the trip.
– Drink plenty of water – maintaining hydration will help alleviate any symptoms.
– Don’t drink alcohol – it will make you feel worse (especially the morning after).
– Try stimulating your other senses. Aromatherapy may help distract you from the motion.
– Eat ginger or flavoured lozenges. (There is evidence that ginger reduces nausea and vomiting in adults. Conversely, there’s no evidence that magnets or acupressure bands prevent motion sickness.)
– Avoid smoking or being near someone who is.
Medication can usually help
There is no cure for motion sickness, but there are several very effective, inexpensive medications to prevent it.
Over-the-counter antihistamines are frequently used to both prevent and treat motion sickness. Anticholinergic and sedative medications are also useful and these include Dimenhydrinate, Promethazine, Hyoscine hydrobromide (Kwells), and the Benzodiazepines class of drugs – all of which are available in Australia.
With the exception of the benzodiazepines, these medications are suitable for kids aged 2 or older. Ask your doctor for advice about the most appropriate medication for each person in your travel group, ensuring children get the correct dose for their age and/or weight.
(Scopolamine pills or patches, and Cinnarizine are also effective. While, they are not sold in Australia, they may be available at your overseas destination or from your ship’s doctor. A scopolamine patch applied to the skin behind the ear can help prevent motion sickness for up to three days.)
But, beware of side-effects
Drowsiness is a common side effect of motion sickness drugs. Driving, steering, or flying to your destination after taking a dose is definitely not advisable.
In fact, these drugs can have other undesirable side-effects. It’s a good idea to discuss the pros and cons with your doctor and try out the medication before travelling so you can gauge any ill effects – especially in children.
Motion sickness that starts after the teenage years may indicate some type of inner ear disorder. It could also be caused by a pre-existing migraine condition or, more rarely, may indicate something more serious.
(People who experience motion sickness are more prone to migraine headaches. For some sufferers, getting treatment for the headaches may help reduce the impact of motion sickness.)
See your doctor if your motion sickness is severe and persists, despite taking medication or trying the other measures mentioned.
We hope these tips help you combat seasickness on your maiden voyage. All the best!