Seasickness: Part Two

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2002

Last week this column looked at seasickness, the causes and symptoms. This week we look at the how to combat effect – or as I like to title it, &uot;a way to feel better, quicker!&uot;

One of the funniest stories I’ve ever read about ways to combat seasickness came from boatus.com which provided a great quote from British Ad-miral Nelson, who told a green-gilled sailor, &uot;You’ll feel better if you sit under a tree.&uot; Great comment from the hero of Trafalgar and who still today commands great respect within the British Navy.

I’ll try not to be nearly as sarcastic because seasickness is serious business. So where to start? First off a quick disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, I do not pretend to be a medical professional, so the information provided here is for your consideration. Anything involving your health should be discussed with your health professional.

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With the disclaimer out of the way, are there individual things or a combination of things you can do to combat seasickness? The answer is yes!

There are actually several trains of thought on how to approach this great equalizer of seafaring people. The different solutions usually fall into three categories: drugs or medicines, food, or activities. Let’s look at each.

Medicines: Boatus.com provided the following insight, &uot;For anyone contemplating a lumpy voyage, there are the various pills and patches that have been concocted-Dramamine, marezine, bonine, phenegran, dextroamphetamine, scapolamine (ear patches), etc. These anti-motion drugs all affect the inner ear, which is where seasickness originates before it drops – thud! – into the stomach. While some people swear by one or the other of these remedies, there is no one drug that has proven to be ideal for everyone. None of the pills work immediately and all must be taken before symptoms occur. There is also something called a phenegran suppository that is said to be effective if someone is already seasick. Ask your doctor how it works.

If you are going to try one or the other you might want to start with marezine, since it is the least likely to cause drowsiness. Scapolomine is probably the most effective and its effects last the longest, about 72 hours. (scapolomine has temporarily been taken off the market by its manufacturer, Ciba-Geigy Co-rp., but can still be obtained from a compounding pharmacist. To get the name of a compounding pharmacist in your area, call 713-933-8400.) Mare-zine, dramamine, and bonine are antihistamines, which means they can be bought over the counter. All of the others require a doctor’s prescription.

Some considerations before using any type of medicine, not just for seasickness but any aliment, should be what are the potential side-effects. The same question should be asked here.

The biggest concern that anyone should have is how drowsy they will get from the drugs mentioned above. Several of these can be quite powerful and can make an individual very drowsy. Find these answers out before you take a specific remedy.

Besides drugs, a second avenue to combating the effects of seasickness can be as close as the local grocer. Two excellent remedies are saltine crackers or ginger snaps. Saltines seem an obvious choice, especially if you have a very upset stomach. But why ginger snaps? Several articles, from different media sources, have reported that ginger root is actually a &uot;natural&uot; stomach calmer, which can decrease the effects of seasickness.

For those that don’t enjoy ginger snaps there are other methods to &uot;take&uot; ginger root, from drinks to a pill. As with over the counter or prescription medicine I strongly recommend you talk with your health care professional.

Besides drugs, medicines, and &uot;natural&uot; solutions are available to thwart the effects of seasickness. One of the most methods, that was actually used by several Coast Guard members on my last two cutters were wrist bands that uses the ancient remedy of acupressure. I can tell you, because I have seen it up close, this system does work for some people. One location to look for details is at www.sea-band.com. The idea is quite simple and has been used by some long-term patients in hospitals that routinely become nauseous.

Is there anything else you can do to keep seasickness at bay, especially if your one of those people that love the water, yet turn green as you walk down the pier? Again, yes there is. Actually, these actions start well before you ever step on the vessel but are as important as having remedies ready to combat the effects of seasickness.

Do not eat anything that has a lot of fat, grease or unique spices.

Do not read while beginning your voyage

Ensure you eat foods that will settle a stomach. One of my favorites is plain old oatmeal, with just a hint of sugar and cinnamon.

Get a good’s night rest. I have made this mistake before and lived to regret it.

Finally, ensure that you have access to fresh air.

My recommendation is you let nature take its course. If you do vomit, look for an opportunity to lie flat, close your eyes and relax.

Seasickness is no fun, but with a little preventive action and some handy ways to combat its onset your voyage will be a lot of pleasurable. Until next week – Boat Safe, Boat Smart!

LCDR Joe DiRenzo III is a resident of Suffolk and a regular columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald.