Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I am going on a cruise and worried about getting seasick. Is there anything that I should do if this occurs?
Dear First cruise,
Seasickness or motion sickness is dizziness and nausea associated with the rocking motion of the ship at sea. Not everyone gets seasick on a cruise, but there are remedies in case you do.
Some common treatments for motion sickness are medications, vitamin B6, or ginger supplements (see details below). If the ship hits rough seas, then do not try to read or write. Do get fresh air, and if outside on deck, then focus on the horizon.
3 Common Treatments for Seasickness
Three common treatments are medications (Bonine or Dramamine), vitamins (B6), or ginger (cookies or tablets).
1. Medications: Bonine and Dramamine can be obtained without a prescription. Bonine does not have the side effect of drowsiness, whereas Dramamine may cause sleepiness. Any medication needs to be taken before symptoms of nausea begin. The ship will have Dramamine tablets available, and there should be a doctor on board. Always consult with a physician before taking medications or for a prescription medication to relieve motion sickness.
2. Vitamin B6: nausea and vomiting episodes were significantly reduced following vitamin B6 therapy in pregnant women (Sripramote & Lekhyananda, 2003)
3. Ginger: Sripramote & Lekhyananda also found that ginger significantly reduced nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. In addition, some veteran cruise ship travelers highly recommend ginger crackers or cookies for nausea. Other forms of ginger may also be effective such as tea, gum, candy, capsules, or powder.
Goddess of the Sea Cruises (www.goddesscruise.com) offers guidelines to avoid seasickness and the major points are listed in brief below .
15 Tips to Reduce the Chances of Sea Sickness
1. Rest: Get plenty of rest before you go out on the water. Weariness and exhaustion can make you more susceptible to other things that can bring on motion sickness.
2. Eat before sailing. An empty stomach can be almost as bad as one with the wrong types of food in it. Don't overeat and get bloated either. Easy does it.
3. Avoid greasy or acidic foods for several hours before your sailing adventure. This includes having coffee also. Consider less acidic fruits (apples, bananas, pears, grapes, melons, etc.), breads (muffins, croissants, rolls), cereals and grains as alternatives. Milk, water, apple juice, cranberry juice and other low acid beverages are gentler alternatives to orange juice or grapefruit juice.
4. Drink plenty of water. Even partial dehydration lowers your body's resistance to the stressful factors caused by the boat ride. Take lots of water with you and drink often.
5. Avoid alcoholic beverages the night before departing. Alcohol tends to dehydrate the body. If you do plan on drinking, make every third drink a glass of water. It will reduce dehydration and your chances for a hangover.
6. Coke or Pepsi: seems to help settle the stomach.
7. Crackers: absorbs the excess stomach acid when feeling nauseous.
8. Avoid gasoline or diesel fumes. They can put you over the edge literally and figuratively.
9. Avoid the cabin and other enclosed spaces. Sometimes, a breezy spot in the sun may be preferable to a shady spot in a stuffy cabin. The open air and ability to look out over the horizon are often more important than being in a shady spot, which can be stuffy and enclosed..
10. Center of boat: there will be less motion towards the center of the boat. Avoid the upper decks as the higher you go, the more you will experience swaying back and forth.
11. Horizon: if you are beginning to feel a bit queasy, stand up and look out over the horizon. Despite what you might think, sitting or laying down is the worst thing you can do at this point. Soda crackers seem to help some people by calming their stomachs and reducing nausea.
12. Avoid Sun Overexposure: when the boat is rolling with the waves rather than moving under its own power and you are standing on deck, possibly getting hot, your resistance to motion sickness diminishes rapidly. Reduce that exposure time to an absolute minimum.
13. Avoid others who are seasick: if someone in your party is overcome by seasickness, get away from them. Unfortunately, many of us can do fine until someone else loses it. Then we have a sympathetic reaction and succumb as well.
14. Steer: for smaller cruises, steering the boat will help alleviate seasickness.
15. Clean ears: may help reduce seasickness by allowing the balance mechanism in the ears to work better.
For more information see www.goddesscruise.com