Coping With Seasickness

For some unfortunate souls, boating can be a stomach-churning experience. Experienced sailors can get a little green around the gills, too, when the weather turns rough. Seasickness happens to a lot of people, but there are ways to alleviate that dizziness and nausea so you don't wind up "feeding the fish" by throwing up over the side of the boat.

As far as we know, motion sickness is caused by conflicting sensory information. When the information picked up by your eyes doesn't match that picked up by the balance centers in your inner ears, it can make you feel dizzy and sick. This is why some people only get carsick while reading a book or riding in the backseat: the body senses that it's in motion, but according to the eyes, everything is standing still.

We're not doctors; we're just sharing what's worked for us and others, so check with your own physician before taking any medication.

Several over-the-counter drugs treat motion sickness. The old standby is dimenhydrinate, the antihistamine best known by the name Dramamine. It can make you drowsy, so don't drink alcohol if you take it. Other antihistamines like diphenhydramine, doxylamine, and meclizine also counteract seasickness. These also list drowsiness as a side effect and shouldn't be taken with alcohol. Children's formulas for some of these medicines exist, too, to help keep your smallest sailors comfortable.

Another medication is scopolamine, which is applied as a patch (usually behind the ear) and absorbed through the skin for up to three days. This treatment is only available by prescription in the USA.

Ginger is a time-honored remedy for all kinds of stomach problems. It's reputed to stimulate digestion and soothe an upset stomach. The spicy root is available as crystallized ginger or as candy. Sipping on ginger ale (made with real ginger) can soothe a troubled tummy, too.

Essential oils have become very popular, and some people report successful treatment of seasickness with a few drops of peppermint and ginger, singly or together, blended into a carrier oil and applied to the skin.

If you know you're prone to seasickness and choose to take medication, take it an hour or two before you leave the dock so it has a chance to start working.


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