Motion Sickness

Motion sickness on the boat is a common topic and question. Here is my attempt to make a concise compliation of the subject. Anything to add? 

Hard Rules

  • Everyone can get motion sick; the kind of motion that does it varies from person to person.
  • There is no one simple cure for motion sickness for all people.

Prevention and Treatment 

  • Hydration and Food
    • Stay very hydrated. Use water, or preferable electrolyte solution (Gatorade, Emergen-C, etc.)
    • Keep fed. Hunger can feel like nausea.
  • Placement and Activity
    • Look at horizon to give perspective on the motion.
    • Avoid reading.
    • Drive the boat.
    • Get fresh air on your face.
    • Avoid strong odors.
  • Drug Free
    • Wristbands – Touches pressure points in your wrist, which helps some people.
    • Electric wristbands – This band makes sure the pressure point is “activated” by an electric pulse.
    • Ginger Ale, snaps, fresh cut, tablets.
  • Non-Prescription Drugs
    • Meclizine (aka Bodine, Dramaine II) 25 mg  Can make you sleepy.
    • Cinnarizine (aka Stugeron) 15 mg No major side effects. Not available for purchase in USA, but available online. Take 2 tablets (30 mg) at least 2 hours before the trip.
  • Prescription Drugs
    • Transderm Scopalamine (aka “the patch”) 1.5 mg Side effects are being sleepy, dry mouth, and in ~10% hallucinations and paranoia.
    • Prochlorperazine (aka Compazine) 25 mg Tablets, but also suppository or injection if it is really bad. Generally used when nothing else works and person is in danger of serious dehydration or critical safety.

Soft Rules (not necessarily 100% true)

  • It is normal for most people to get motion sick at some point on a boat, especially if conditions are varying.
  • Once you get sick, it is hard to get better quickly. Vomiting can make you feel better. Be sure to have safe place to do your thing. “Over the side” can be dangerous.
  • Some say there is a mental factor to getting sick, and fear can accelerate motion sickness.
  • People can adjust to the motion and what made them sick one time, will not make them sick the next time.
  • It usually takes 12-36 hours to get your “sea-legs” after which you can often handle just about any motion.
  • Even slight motion can create motion sickness; it is not necessarily huge motion.
  • Coastal wave action can be worse than the open ocean due to coastal wave refractions.
  • Precursor to full blown motion sickness can be: sweating, headache, queasiness, drowsiness, and depression. Time to start treatment.

So do Christi and Eric get motion sick? We probably will at some point, see the first Hard Rule. The trick is being prepared.

3 thoughts on “Motion Sickness

  1. I have found two solutions to Motion Sickness on boats that kind of work:

    1) If the boat is moving fast, go sit on the bow and stare at the horizon. It quells some of the confusion between your brain and your inner ear (which is how it starts). Also, this really really works if you go sit on the bow in shorts and a tshirt and drink a really cold soda. Somehow getting a good chill going distracts you from the queasiness until it passes. It sounds like torture but being cold is way better than being sick.

    2) Lots of deep breaths. This works better in cars than on boats. Basically the vasoconstriction that accompanies motion sickness can be minimized by oxygenating your bloodstream and encouraging plenty of circulation. You’ll notice when you’re carsick you tend to breath pretty shallow … flush it out with lots of fresh air.

  2. Also recently just read that quarter doses of Meclizene every 6 hours for a total of 24 hours before departure works well and does not make you as sleepy.

  3. Pingback: Kosmos Travel Log » Blog Archive » Bali to Singapore Days 3-4

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