how to treat sea sickness

Quick Guide: How to treat seasickness

Literally anyone can be subject to sea sickness or motion sickness while traveling with a boat.
90% of the people have experienced motion sickness at one point in their lives and only veteran ocean sailors seem rather impervious to it.


But why do people get seasick?

Motion sickness relates to our sense of spatial orientation, which tells the brain where the body is “in space”: what direction it is moving, what direction it is pointing, and if it is turning or standing still. This sense of spatial orientation is regulated by complex interaction of the 4 following mechanisms:

  • Both inner ears monitor the directions of motion in three dimensions.
  • Our eyes observe where our body is in relation to its surroundings as well as the direction of motion.
  • Skin pressure receptors such as those located in the feet and seat sense in what direction the gravitational pull affects our body, in other words: what side is up?
  • Muscle and joint sensory neural receptors report which parts of the body are in motion and in which relative direction.

All these sensory data will subsequently be processed in the central nervous system, which enables us to balance, move and position ourselves properly in our three dimensional surroundings.
The symptoms of motion sickness appear when the brain receives conflicting messages from the 4 systems. And a conflict on board can easily occur: when reading a book on deck your eyes observe no motion, yet your inner ears feel the motion of the yacht due to the waves.

how to treat sea sickness
how to treat sea sickness

Symptoms of seasickness

The first symptoms are often lethargy and a slight drowsiness. But it usually start with a nauseous feeling and/or a slight cold sweat. Then these symptoms increase, and the face becomes paler, perhaps even greenish. Any attempt to concentrate on a task will worsen this predicament. The nauseous feeling eventually becomes incontrollable, and leads to – sometimes violent – vomiting.

The victim should be wearing a life jacket and/or be tethered via a safety harness.Prevention of seasicknessHours before casting off you could well use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as meclizine or dimenhydrinate and you should – before and during the voyage – avoid spicy or rich foods, alcohol and apples. For longer trips, a prescription medication called Transderm-Scopolamine patch can be worn behind the ear for up to three days at a time. Side-effects of these medications usually consist of sedation and dry mouth.


How to act in case I get seasick:

  1. Fool Yourself – Believe it or not (your choice) but 99% of seasickness is mental. Even the most stalwart mariner begins to feel queazy at times… but quickly solves the problem by telling themselves “I don’t get seasick!”. Repeat it 3 times in the mirror before departure. And make sure you say it with conviction!!
  2. Look at the Horizon – When a ship is riding to a heavy sea everything