Have you ever been nauseous and unable to make it stop? Most people can answer “yes” to this.
This is what seasickness feels like. Some people reading are lucky enough to never have experienced this, but if you are one of the not so lucky people reading, there are many ways to help avoid it so you may enjoy your adventure on the ocean. So, here are some tips to help prevent “the urge to purge”.
Start the night before:
Taking your choice of motion sickness medication the night before your boat ride, can help get the active ingredient into your bloodstream. The active ingredient is usually meclizine, Meclizine is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of natural chemical histamine in the body. Meclizine is used to treat or prevent nausea, vomiting, and dizziness caused by motion sickness. It is also used to treat symptoms of vertigo (dizziness or spinning sensation) caused by disease that affects your inner ear. Some of the more common OTC (over the counter) are Dramamine® and Bonine® both available at Force-E Scuba Centers and online.
If you are a sushi fan, go have some, BUT load up on the pickled ginger!!! Ginger is a great homeopathic stomach aide. There are many motion sickness remedies, which have ginger as a main ingredient and some don’t contain any meclizine. For some people, these homeopathic motion sickness remedies are enough, or even better than the OTC medication as they don’t leave you drowsy.
Day of your dive:
Take your motion sickness medication (preferably non-drowsy if you’re going to be scuba diving!) about two hours before your boat ride. And, bring more on board, take it as often as the directions allow—you want to prevent motion sickness, not treat it after you feel it, if possible.
You should also consider wearing pressure point motion sickness treatment bracelets or stick-on’s. You can wear these while taking motion sickness medications, so, it doubles up on the treatment. Force E also sells Seabands® pressure point bracelets in the stores.
Dehydration may be a factor, so, it’s best to avoid coffee and/or energy drinks the morning before your boat ride. Drinking plenty of plain old water, and avoid drinking liquids with the color red (note if you vomit it might look like blood and the crew will go into emergency mode).
Also, have a lighter breakfast, like toast or oatmeal; heavy greasy foods are not a good idea if you are prone to motion sickness.
Don’t wait until you’re feeling sick:
If you have begun to feel sick it may be TOO LATE!!! If you didn’t prepare for seasickness, like we suggested above, taking the meds while on the boat will not help.
Stay on top of your hydration, make sure you are drinking plenty of water while on the boat. The body needs to stay hydrated not just for seasickness, but because you are breathing compressed dry air, dehydration is one of the leading causes of decompression sickness.
If you do get nauseous:
If all of your preparation fails, or, if you didn’t think you were going to get sick and therefore didn’t take any steps to prevent, there’s another trick that helps in the moment: look at the horizon line. That is the one place that is not moving, so, even if the boat is really rocking, looking at the horizon line can trick your inner ear into stopping motion sickness. It’s best to be away from any diesel fumes and out in fresh air when feeling sick. Staying in the middle of the boat on the deck can ease the motion, going up on the bridge with the captain is a bad idea because it rocks the most the higher up you go. You also want to avoid being in the below deck area of a boat, like in the marine head, because fresh air is better for you when you feel sick and you don’t want to vomit in the head…it clogs and smells, making you feel worse.
Resist the urge to put your head down between your knees. Just keep your head up, look at the horizon. If you feel sick, ask your divemaster nicely to switch your gear to your second tank for you. Having to focus and look at the gear bouncing in front of you can make you sick.
Most of the boats will joke with you during their briefing that if you vomit the fish will be your friends or to paint their boat engines…whatever silly joke they make they do this because they are not worried about cleaning up your mess. Boat captains and Divemasters all know this is part of the job and they are prepared for the clean up…however they are more worried about you and how you're feeling so know it’s ok to let it out. They do judge for color, distance, and pattern! Just Kidding :)
In most cases, after you vomit you might notice you feel better…so let it go! Know that it’ll feel much better if you get in the water, and everyone on the boat telling you to do this, is RIGHT!!! So, if you are on a dive boat and you end up getting sick during the surface interval, don’t cancel yourself out of the next dive unless you truly feel like you are extremely dehydrated or otherwise incapable of diving. I myself have been on countless dives on rough days where some divers decided to stay on the rocky boat and some came on the second dive. And every time, the ones that went in the water said they were very happy they did, because their motion sickness went away as soon as they sank below the waves.
Motion sickness doesn’t have to ruin your trip! The more time you spend on boats, the easier motion sickness gets…so get out and dive with Force-E soon.