Seasickness – how can you prevent it?

By in Crewing skills, Emergencies, Practical, Preparation, Yacht ownership | 0 comments

Seasickness is a common problem at sea and affects both seasoned sailors and novices. What are the causes and symptoms of seasickness? How can you prevent seasickness and what medications can you take?

It can take time to acclimatise to a boat moving around beneath you when you are at sea. This is especially so in rough weather, where there is usually a lot of pitching and rolling involved. In this post we look at the symptoms and causes of seasickness, how we prevent it and what medications to take.

Some people find their bodies are able to cope with the continual motion and soon get used to the sensation; when this happens this is known as finding your sea legs. Others find it takes them longer to adjust. They continue to feel unsteady on their feet and may begin to feel queasy. This can develop into seasickness, where the sufferer can be unwell for several days if they remain at sea. 

What are the symptoms of seasickness?

The symptoms include dizziness, cold sweats, headaches, pale skin, increases in saliva and vomiting. In acute cases, sufferers will become weaker, dehydrated and generally more debilitated.

What are the causes of seasickness?

Seasickness is caused when the balance sensor in your inner ear sends different signals to your brain from those your eyes are seeing, in the same way as car sickness occurs. This mismatch of signals confuses the brain and makes you feel unwell.

How to prevent seasickness

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help prevent you suffering from seasickness:

  • Some crews always take seasickness pills before going sailing. Others take seasickness pills if rough weather is forecast.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before you go sailing.
  • Avoid eating greasy, acidic and spicy foods.
  • Eat light meals. Include ginger and peppermint in your diet, which are both natural remedies for seasickness.
  • Don’t read books or use electronic devices – reading at sea can quickly lead to feelings of nausea.
  • Watch the horizon – the horizon always remains stable and your eyes, inner ear and brain won’t get confused with each other if you keep checking the horizon. 
  • Take the helm – helming really helps reduce the feeling of nausea. Have you ever felt car sick when driving? No, most likely.  
  • Wear seasickness wristbands. Note these work better for some people than others. 
  • In severe cases, the best thing to do is to lie down and make sure you keep hydrated.

Medications for seasickness

There are several types of drug available for seasickness. These include antihistamines and anticholinergics. One of the most popular antihistamines is Stugeron and we recommend its use. However, while Stugeron is effective it can make you feel drowsy and dry mouthed. It is best to take seasickness pills as a preventative medicine, so if you are prone to seasickness, this is advised.

Tips:

  • Each person is different. Some remedies work better for an individual than others, so it is worth trying everything on offer until you find a remedy that works for you.
  • If you are suffering, don’t keep it to yourself. Your skipper and crewmates should be sympathetic and will be ready to help.

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