Sea sickness: Ginger, Mareol & Never vomit into the wind.   4 comments

Winslow Homer's "The Fog Warning" 1885


“Never vomit into the wind”

Motion sickness or kinetosis – also known as ‘Travel Sickness’ – is apparently experienced by about 33% of people – even in mild circumstances such as being on a boat in calm water.

Common symptoms …

  • Dizziness, fatigue, and nausea [nausea, from the Greek term naus – meaning ship]
  • A paleness of the skin may be followed by yawning, restlessness, and a cold sweat.  As the symptoms progress, malaise and drowsiness set in, sometimes accompanied by an upset stomach.

Common situations that lead to sea sickness …

  • Motion sickness is more likely to occur with complex types of movement, especially movement that is slow or involves two different directions (for example, vertical and horizontal) at the same time;
  • Poor ventilation caused by gas fumes and smoke, and emotional factors such as fear and anxiety often act together to bring on an attack of motion sickness;

When it comes to a cruise, for example, in the Galapagos Islands …

  • You should strongly consider a more stable vessel – these being the large capacity cruise ships, and heavy motor catamarans;
  • The wider and heavier the vessel, the more stable it is; conversely, the narrower and lighter the vessel the more unstable it is;
  • Ideally you want to locate yourself as low down and and central (from front to back, and from side to side) of the boat as possible – this is the spot that you will feel less movement.

Other data …

  • Women are more sensitive to motion sickness than men, and pregnant women are especially at risk for motion sickness.
  • Children are commonly affected. The peak incidence for the development of motion sickness is 12 years; infants and children under two are generally not affected.
  • Persons who suffer from migraine headaches are at increased risk for motion sickness.

Supposed causes have been chalked up to an INNER EAR DISTURBANCE – basically what one feels and what one sees do not match.  Some claim that when feeling motion but not seeing it (for example, in a ship with no windows), the inner ear transmits to the brain that it senses motion, but the eyes tell the brain that everything is still. As a result of the disconcordance, the brain will come to the conclusion that one of them is hallucinating and further conclude that the hallucination is due to poison ingestion. The brain responds by inducing vomiting, to clear the supposed toxin.

Visual input seems to be of lesser importance, since blind people can develop motion sickness.

In an interesting article in Science Daily (link), professor of human movement science at the University of Minnesota, Tom Stoffregen, Ph.D., claims that “Those who move a lot, although barely visible, are the ones that get sick. He says it’s like they’re subconsciously moving to compensate for the motion, but they’re only making it worse.”

Dr. Stoffregen says, “People who are going to get sick first become wobbly, and it’s fair to say that by becoming wobbly they make themselves sick.” For now, researchers can’t predict who’s going to get sick, but experts say the best way to prevent motion sickness is to lie down and close your eyes.

Galapagos sea sicknessTreatment and/or prevention of Motion Sickness ..

Medications and other treatments are available. Nonprescription antihistamine treatments are believed to block signals from the inner ear to the vomiting center.

Antihistamines have been used to treat motions sickness. Notably, the nonsedating antihistamines do not seem to be effective for motion sickness treatment.

Examples of antihistamine medications to treat motion sickness include:

  • chlorpheniramine (Aller-Chlor),
  • cyclizine (Marezine),
  • cyclizine HCI (Bonine for Kids)
  • dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, Dramamine Chewable, Driminate),
  • diphenhydramine (Benadryl or MAREOL [Colombia & Ecuador],
  • meclizine (Antivert, Bonine, D-Vert, Dramamine II).

Side effects may include significant sedation, drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and confusion and urinary retention in the elderly.

  • These are most effective if taken 30 minutes to an hour before traveling and as directed.  If the drugs are taken only when the traveler begins to feel sick, it is usually too late to stop the process. These drugs should not be taken by children under 12 or by persons with other health problems without a doctor’s consent.  A number of prescription anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drugs are available. Ask your doctor for advice.  One innovative treatment is a through-the-skin delivery system, Transderm Scop, developed for scopolamine a highly effective drug for motion sickness. One patch is normally applied behind the ear 4 hours prior to travel, and replaced every 3 days. This method is not recommended for children, pregnant women, or those with liver, kidney, or bladder disease.

Some studies have shown that ginger, an old home remedy for gastrointestinal disturbances, may be effective in prevention of motion sickness.    Taking 1-2 grams of ginger orally has been used as an alternative medicine to prevent motion sickness. Studies both in experimental motion sickness and in naval cadets at sea have found that ginger, taken in advance, has reduced the symptoms of motion sickness. It is believed, however, that this benefit is due to the effects of ginger on stomach motility rather than suppression of sensory input.

Fixing one’s gaze upon landmarks or the horizon may help to prevent or lessen the symptoms of motion sickness.

Once the symptoms of motion sickness have set in, there is little to offer the suffering traveler other than sympathy and perhaps some fresh air.

Happy cruising.

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