Your dream dive trip can become a nightmare if you start to feel seasick. Motion sickness is all too common, and can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, and cold sweats. While it can be mild, it can also be completely incapacitating in some cases.
“Seasickness is the result of a complex physiological reaction to motion,” says John Bradberry, MD, medical director for Carnival Cruise Lines. “It is a mismatch of information sent to the brain from the eyes, inner ear, and sensory nerves, such as in the feet.”
Think of it like this: When you are inside a cabin on a ship, your eyes do not see movement, but the inner ear senses it. Your eyes are telling your brain there is no movement, while the inner ear is telling the brain there is. The result in some people is seasickness.
You can get motion sickness from traveling in a car, airplane, train, or even in an amusement park ride. “People who are prone to one form of motion sickness tend to be more susceptible to other forms of it,” Bradberry says.
While anyone can become seasick, it often affects children from 2 to 12 years old, pregnant women, and people who are prone to migraines. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve been seasick before, and want to make sure it does not happen again.
Firstly, don’t try to cure serious motion sickness by putting on your dive gear and heading underwater. The nausea may disappear when you get under the water (and the motion of the boat stops), but you shouldn’t put yourself or your dive buddies in a situation where you might throw up underwater. Getting sick when you are in the water can lead to panic and a serious diving accident. And nobody wants that!
The good news is that you do not always have to fall victim to seasickness every time you get on a boat. Here are some of our top tips to prevent seasickness!
Watch What You Eat
“Nausea is a hallmark of seasickness. Any stimulus that triggers nausea can aggravate sea sickness symptoms,” Bradberry says.
Watch your consumption when it comes to foods, drinks, and alcohol before and during travel. If you know you are prone to seasickness, it is a good idea to avoid excessive alcohol, smoking, and foods or liquids that “don’t agree with you” or make you feel unusually full. This also includes foods with strong odors, or ones that are heavy, spicy, or fat-rich, as these may worsen symptoms of nausea or motion sickness in some people.
A variety of medications are available to help prevent or treat motion sickness. Medicines for nausea are called antiemetic drugs.
“Most of the medications work by counteracting the effects of chemicals released by the brain during seasickness,” Bradberry says.
Talk to you doctor about which medications are best for you. Most often, they will suggest meclizine (Antivert, Bonine) or cyclizine (Marezine) 25 mg taken orally, or dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) 50 mg orally, taken every six to 12 hours as needed. To be most effective, the first dose of medication should be taken one hour before getting on a moving boat. Taking medication after you already begin to feel sick will not be effective.
Have a bite
While you may not feel like eating anything, try something light and bland, such as saltine crackers, plain bread, or pretzels. Having some food in your stomach is better than having an empty stomach, but be careful not to eat too much.
Also, you might want to sip some ginger ale: Ginger is a well-known natural remedy for motion sickness. Peppermint also may have calming effects on the stomach. Many people find that eating crackers along with drinking water or soda helps.
Ginger has been around for decades as an overall remedy for nausea. It comes in several forms, like ginger ale, ginger oils, ginger chews, ginger tablets, you name it and it works! Ingesting ginger prior to setting sail prolongs (or alleviates) any oncoming seasickness. Ginger has been backed by science and medical research, and is naturally effective.
Get fresh air
If you are feeling seasick, it is a good idea to go out on an open deck or balcony and look toward the horizon. Doing this helps your eyes “see” the motion, which will then send signals to the brain more in alignment with what the inner ear is “telling” the brain, Bradberry says. Fresh air, especially wind blowing in your face, tends to help. It also helps to focus on something other than the boat’s motion, so try to keep active while aboard the boat. Make sure you face the direction that the boat is headed, and not facing backwards.
Something you may or may not have heard of are PSI bands, also known as sea sickness bands. For those who want to avoid over-the-counter medications like Dramamine, these can be a great option. How do they work? These types of wristbands use acupressure to help prevent nausea. The band maintains steady pressure on your P6 point, located on your inner arm just below your wrist; this stimulates the median nerve, interrupting “I’m sick” messages sent between the brain and the belly.
While some people swear by them, they may not be effective for everyone. However, they are fairly inexpensive, so it may be worth a try. You should also have other preventative measures in place, just in case.
Everyone gets sick from time to time. Especially when you are in an unfamiliar environment, such as a moving boat. If this happens, don’t panic! It will subside, and there are many ways to prevent it. Of course, if your symptoms last longer than a few days after you get off the boat, you should consult a doctor to make sure you do not have an inner ear problem. You just need to find what works for you! And remember, you should not take a chance and dive if you are feeling sick.