What Is Seasickness?

Seasickness is a type of motion sickness, which hits mostly any person while at sea. It occurs as the motion perceived by the vestibular system does not match with the motion perceived visually. This leads to nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.

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Though seasickness is most common amongst the first time traveler, even the most seasoned mariners fall prey to it. The problem is related to motion therefore when the motion stops the patient gradually comes back to normal.

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What Causes Seasickness?

Seasickness occurs due to an imbalance in the sensory system. Its occurrence has three reasons.

  1. The motion is felt but not seen
  2. The motion is seen but not felt
  3. Both the above problems occurring simultaneously

Human balance mechanism resides in the inner ear, therefore seasickness known to be a result of the conflict in the inner ear. The conflict is caused by the vessels erratic motion on water. The inner ear detects the changes in the up-and-down and side-to-side acceleration as the body moves along with the boat. But since in the cabin, the eyes visualize a stable scene. Due to this incompatibility of the two senses, the brain responds with a cascade of stress hormone which ultimately leads to nausea, vertigo, and vomiting.

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  • Moreover many times a person’s symptoms might be magnified by strong odors such as fumes and fishes.
  • A person can also feel sick on watching other passengers getting sick.
  • Consumption of alcohol and heavy meal during the voyage also becomes a reason for getting sick.

Signs and Symptoms of Seasickness

Most of the passengers start feeling sick within the first 48 hours of being on the sea. The symptoms for most subside once the body assimilates to the ship motion. It is rare for anyone to stay ill beyond a couple of days unless the vessel encounters some really rough waves.

The motion of the ship competes against the human body natural tendency leading to the following symptoms:

The symptoms are common to the symptoms of other motion sicknesses. You are more likely to suffer from seasickness if you have ever had motion sickness while traveling in a car, plane, or an amusement park ride.

How to Deal With The Seasickness?

There is no need to get embarrassed if you feel sick while traveling on the sea. Many people do feel sick and as said above even the most seasoned travelers also feel sick most of the time.

Just follow the following tips, which can help you get over this discomfort.

  • Keep yourself hydrated. Seasickness and the medication, given for it can cause dehydration and headache. Drink plenty of water and other fluids such as soups and low acidity juices. Avoid milk and coffee.
  • Keep your mind busy. Distracting self from the discomfort also help. Keep moving and keep yourself busy.
  • Stay in the fresh air. Fresh air helps in speedy recovery. Stay on the deck even if it rains. The closed-in quarters below the deck intensifies the vessels motion and also the symptoms.
  • Always carry a plastic bag. The mind gets panicked on thinking about the seasickness. And the embarrassment of vomiting can keep you more in the discomfort. If carrying a bag to vomit you can ensure that the unpleasant experience doesn’t get worse.
  • Take some over-the-counter medication for relief. There are various medications which can help with the symptoms of motion sickness. Take them one hour prior to the sail. The medicines can cause dehydration, therefore keep a check on your hydration level. Drink plenty of water.
  • Try some herbal remedies. Ginger is the most common herbal remedy used by sailor since long.
  • Research shows one gram of ginger has similar effects as the recommended dose for motion sickness medicine dimenhydrinate.(1) Ginger works by shutting the message to the brain which is also how most of the over-the-counter prescription works.
  • Anti-seasickness wristband can be worn. They suppress a point on the wrist which suppresses nausea. They are easily available at marine or travel stores. It is a good drug-free option.
  • Do not stuff yourself up with greasy, high-fat food. They may aggravate the condition. Keep your stomach filled with healthy snacks. Most people find relief by chewing on gum and for some the hard candies play the role.
  • Keep away the gadgets. More you are on your mobile, computers, iPad or paperwork, more you take yourself toward feeling sick. Focussing your eyes on something else convinces your brain even more than the middle ear is wrong. Keep the devices away.
  • Taking vitamin C also helps with the symptoms of seasickness.(2) Vitamin C cuts the production of histamine, which is responsible for making you feel seasick.
  • Sleep it off. On closing eyes, the brain will receive fewer mixed signals which can help to ease the symptoms of seasickness.

If on a long journey, once you get acclimatized with the sea, the feeling is naturally cured. But if you are amongst those few who do not get better even after a few days, the above tips might prove to help.

Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: August 31, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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