Sea sickness and how to avoid it

by Danny Sims

A thin bead of sweat breaks out on your forehead. You start to feel hot and flushed. A sinking, churning feeling begins to take over your stomach.

Somebody offers you a curried egg and parmesan cheese sandwich. That's it; its all too much. Your head is over the side of the boat and no matter how often you are sick, nothing makes you better. Oh lord give me a gun!!!

Motion sickness
The cause of many a ruined days fishing. It can afflict any person, even the most hardened fishing veteran. What is it and how do you stop it? Unfortunately it isn't a very well understood problem. Basically put, there is a mechanism I each ear, called the Labyrinth which monitors the position of the head. This labyrinth detects changes in the head position and send messages to the brain so the body can compensate and not fall over. We also use our eyes to assist with our balance. Unfortunately, on a boat for example, when we are bobbing up and down, our eyes tell us one thing and our ears tell us something else. The constant moving of the waves confuses the eyes and it is these confused messages which cause us to be sick. The brain sends out powerful messages causing all the undesirable effects of motion sickness.

How can motion sickness be avoided?
There are many theories and medications which seem to work. Bear in mind, what might work for one might not for another. What is available for the potential afflicted?

Acupuncture: bands are available from chemists etc which are to be worn around the wrist. A small bead in the band applies pressure to a nerve which in theory blocks or reduces the impulse of the brain to make that person vomit. I am lead to believe they work well, providing the bead is placed in exactly the right spot.

Medication: Some of the common medications available over the counter at your chemist are Dramamine, Kwells, Andrumin, Travacalm and Travs. All these medications work differently to stop or reduce the effects of motion sickness. Some have a direct effect on the central nervous system (chemical impulses in the brain), while others effect other parts of the body (the stomach etc). These medications can be taken in tablet form or liquid.

Common side effects: Drowsiness, Dryness of the mouth. Other medications are available but only by prescription from a doctor.

Other: Certain companies produce natural remedies for the prevention of motion sickness, Blackmores for example. It has been suggested the presence of food in the stomach reduces the feeling of nausea. With the beginning of nausea, the stomach dilates or expands and stops its normal motion. By eating something like dry biscuits (not a sea food pizza or tacos), it stimulates the stomach and nausea decreases. I personally drink Lemon herbal tea which seems to settle my stomach on the odd occasion I have felt queasy. Fresh air helps when the nausea hits. Try an avoid being cooped up inside, or strong odours; fried food, diesel or petrol fumes. Close your eyes and try an fix your vision on a stationary object, this may help to stabilise the messages the brain is receiving. Unfortunately there is no 100% guarantee with any of these preventative's.

Because of some potential side effects to medications or treatment, I strongly suggest you seek advice from your local Doctor, before trying anything out. Take care and safe boating.

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