Sea sickness and how to get rid of it

During short cruises from island to island, seasickness, if it happens to you, will not be a problem. The coast is close, and all symptoms will go away immediately after mooring; there is nothing to worry about. However, in the case of offshore or ocean crossings lasting more than 24 hours, constant motion sickness will simply result in disability. Therefore, motion sickness must be prevented or treated effectively.

Motion sickness causes sensory conflict—in other words, you see and feel different things. The second factor is stress — both of these conditions lead to the production of histamine. It reaches the brain, and the result is nausea and other discomfort.

Mild manifestations of seasickness during a long sea voyage are normal, even if you have gone boating on coastal cruises before and have not encountered such a problem. Usually, 1-2 days is enough to “pump up” and get back to normal.

However, some people are more susceptible to motion sickness than others. And if you're a captain, responsibility for the safety of the ship and crew is unfortunately here to stay if you're down. You'll still have to keep an eye on watch, dangers, other ships, navigation, and the weather. And if all the roles on the ship are scheduled, it will be difficult for the rest of the crew to spend their days lying on deck. Therefore, helping others deal with motion sickness as quickly as possible should be the goal and responsibility of everyone on board.

To avoid or reduce the severity of seasickness, the following steps should be taken:

Before sailing

  • Avoid coffee, black tea, cola, and alcohol (all of which are diuretics), fatty and histamine-forming foods, including tuna, tomatoes, salami, hard cheeses, and sauerkraut, at least 2-4 days before swimming.
  • Increase your water intake to 2 to 3 liters per day.
  • Start taking appropriate motion sickness medication at least 24 hours before departure. These may be 2-3 grams of Vitamin C, Berocca effervescent tablets, Stugeron tablets, Compazine suppositories, or TransDerm Scopolamin patches.
  • Prepare everything you can before departure to minimize your time below deck: meals should be planned and prepared, bunks filled and lined, and appropriate clothing laid out.

At sea

Whether or not you feel seasick symptoms, you should:

  • Seasick crew members often ask to be left alone, saying they are neither thirsty nor hungry. Leaving them alone is a mistake. It is necessary to hydrate them with liquids constantly and regularly feed them with small portions of food.
  • Maintain your fluid intake so that you drink 2-3 liters daily.
  • The first symptoms of seasickness (mild headache, nausea, sweating, drowsiness, apathy) are an alarm signal for you. This means that sensory conflict has caused histamine production and that more serious intervention is required.
  • Add Berocca or a similar vitamin and mineral blend to replenish electrolytes in your water. Replacing electrolytes helps your cells absorb fluids more quickly and fully. If you buy ready-made drinks, pay attention to the composition — for example, Gatorade and similar sports drinks lack vitamin C, which counteracts histamine production.
  • Eat small amounts of food regularly: crackers, cookies, fruit, or hard candy. Bananas contain potassium and are a great first choice if available.

Effective pharmacology

  1. Stugeron tablets (cinnarizine) are an over-the-counter antihistamine and the most effective remedy for motion sickness. It causes less drowsiness than other antihistamines. Choose a dose of less than 75 mg — this dose is too high to combat seasickness.
  2. Compazine suppositories (prochlorperazine) have proven to be the most effective drug against nausea and anxiety and also do not cause drowsiness. As anxiety can make you nauseous and Compazine treats both, it's an important medication to have on board. And suppositories are much more effective than pills if vomiting begins.
  3. Transderm Scopolamine patches — may work when no other drug works, but this drug should be tested on land first, as documented side effects include drowsiness, blurred vision, disorientation, anxiety, hallucinations, and psychosis. When using scopolamine for more than three days, expect serious mood swings and severe sleepiness.

ATTENTION! Any drug, prescription or non-prescription, has side effects. Be sure to ask your doctor and study each drug. If you have health problems, any of the above drugs may be contraindicated for you. Be sure to test each anti-motion sickness medication ashore well before you set sail to see how it affects you and the scale of possible side effects.

Feeling nauseous?

  1. Take the helm and control the boat, gazing into the horizon. If possible, make driving the boat comfortable for yourself: if the yacht goes too fast, take the reefs; if the slope is too high, bear away.
  2. If you need to go below deck, first remove the upper part of your gear and do it in the cockpit instead of below. The sooner you get back on deck or lie down, the better you'll feel. Lying down prevents histamine from reaching the brain, which reduces nausea.
  3. Don't try to sleep below deck with your gear on to reduce the risk of hyperthermia.
  4. Don't read, look at screens, or focus on objects on board.
  5. Maintain medication and fluid intake.

Are you going to vomit now?

  1. Induce vomiting in a 2-liter plastic container with a tight-fitting lid that can be used on and below deck. Always use a container to avoid the risk of falling overboard.
  2. Most people feel much better after vomiting, but it's important to maintain a consistent intake of fluids and electrolytes. Drink small sips and keep your blood sugar levels up. This will help you avoid Sopit syndrome, which will result in a loss of appetite for food or liquids and make you want to sleep. By succumbing to Sopit's syndrome, you're putting yourself at risk for prolonged dehydration, which can lead to shock.
  3. Prolonged vomiting catastrophically quickly causes dehydration, hypothermia (even in the tropics), anxiety, confusion, and shock. In case of shock, an enema or an IV is the next step towards rehydration and survival.