Top seafarers share their best practical and medical tips on how to cure seasickness
Why does seasickness occur?
Suffering from seasickness is probably about the most draining, debilitating, demoralizing and down-right awful feeling you can have that isn’t going to kill you. But on ships it can be something of an occupational hazard.
Nurse Crewtoo says, “Motion sickness is thought to occur when there’s a conflict between what your eyes see and what your inner ears, which help with balance, sense”.
Your brain holds details about where you are and how you’re moving…or not. Your mind is constantly updating itself through the information from your eyes and vestibular system (the network of nerves, channels and fluids in your inner ear).
If there’s a mismatch of information between these two systems, then the end result usually has carrots in it.
Be aware of seasickness symptoms
Initial symptoms of sea sickness may include:
- pale skin
- cold sweat
- an increase in saliva
Some people also experience additional symptoms, such as:
- rapid, shallow breathing
- extreme tiredness
In most cases, the symptoms of sea sickness will start to improve as your body adapts to the conditions causing the problem. Or you stop moving!
Practical seasickness tips
How to cure seasickness? Many old-timers know that sunset helps to cure seasickness.
Mild symptoms of sea sickness can usually be improved using techniques such as fixing your eyes on the horizon or distracting yourself by listening to music…though we would not advise Michael Buble.
Other self-care techniques you could try to include:
- Keep still – yes, that may sound daft when you are on a ship, but we mean as still as possible. Find somewhere in the middle of the vessel and you will experience the least amount of movement. A ship bounces, rotates and swivels around its centre of gravity – so find where that is, grab your pillow and get comfy there because this is where you’ll experience the least movement.
- In theory you should be able to look at a stable object – for example, the horizon. But if this keeps vanishing as giant waves hove into view, it may not be the best idea.
- Fresh air – get outside if it’s safe to do so. The Bridge wings, if you are fortunate to have open ones are a great place to blast the icky away. If not open windows or open a door to get a blast of the great salty outdoors.
- Relax – Yes, yes, we know it’s hard as yet another bookshelf disgorges itself all over the floor – but if you can focus on your breathing or carrying out a mental activity, such as counting backwards from 100, you may distract your brain from its new hobby of trying to make you spew.
- Keep calm and suck something, or have an ice cold Coke – try and keep calm, the more you stress the worse it is going to get. Try sucking on a boiled sweet to take any nasty tastes away.
- Avoid eating a large meals or drinking alcohol before the ship leaves port. You should try and keep well hydrated by drinking water.
Medical seasickness tips
How to cure seasickness? Some onboard medicine proved to be indispensable seasickness cure.
If being cool, calm and rotating close to the centre of gravity hasn’t helped, it could be time to look to medication. It’s usually better to take medication for motion sickness before the bad weather or lumpy bits to prevent symptoms developing…but if that hasn’t happened you can still pop a pill, suck a sweet or strap on a pressure band.
So what are the options?
- Hyoscine or Cinnarizine: There are widely used to treat motion sickness and are thought to work by blocking some of the nerve signals sent from the vestibular system. One brand name which is popular is Sturgeron…from our humble experience it works pretty well. But with drowsy side-effects not good if you’re meant to be watchkeeping or operating heavy machinery…be careful!
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines can also help to control nausea and vomiting. They’re less effective at treating motion sickness than hyoscine or cinnarizine, but may cause fewer side effects.
- Several complementary therapies have been suggested for sea sickness, although the evidence for their effectiveness is mixed.
How to cure seasickness? Ginger tea helps to calm down your body and mind.
Ginger: Ginger supplements, or other ginger products including ginger biscuits or ginger tea, may help to prevent symptoms of sea sickness. Although there’s little scientific evidence to support the use of ginger to treat motion sickness, it has a long history of being used as a remedy for nausea and vomiting, so why not give it a go?
- Acupressure bands: Acupressure bands are stretchy bands worn around the wrists. They apply pressure to a particular point on the inside of your wrist between the two tendons on your inner arm.
Some complementary therapists claim that using an acupressure band can help to treat motion sickness. We’re not so sure….