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Avoiding Sea Sickness


Nobody WANTS to be sea sick. Especially when your going out on the water or a day of fishing.  There are many remedies for sea sickness, listed below are some of what appears to be available.

Here's a list of remedies in order of possible effectiveness:

The following information has been scavenged from many sources and
what works for some may not be as effective for others.
The header names that have underlines, have hyperlinks to that company's webpages.

Do You Wear Glasses?
If you happen to wear bi-focal or tri-focal glasses that have the graduated lenses, (no distinct separation lines between the prescriptions) read on as you may be in trouble. 
Your eyes are constantly trying to adjust to the lens all the time because of the rocking motion of the boat.  On these graduated lenses,  you have to raise and lower your head until the object is in focus, but with the rocking motion the eyes cannot keep up & seasickness may present itself.         

Vitabahn Oral Spray:     
VitaMotion-S is as easy as four quick sprays in your mouth.  Unlike pills, no water is needed, making it perfect for those long business trips or vacations.   It combines ingredients that have been used for years in fighting the symptoms of motion sickness.  Each dose of VitaMotion-S contains dimenhydrinate, an antihistamine that aids in the prevention of nausea and vomiting. 
Ginger, used for centuries and known for its ability to relieve motion sickness and dizziness better than the standard drug treatment, is also included, as is vitamin B6, a water-soluble nutrient that works with ginger to relieve gastric problems. 

These three age-tested forms of relief are combined to create a unique 1-2-3 punch for even the toughest cases of motion sickness. 

Sometimes referred to as "the patch".  This remedy can be obtained by prescription only from your doctor. It looks like a little round Band-Aid and is worn behind your ear.  There are a certain percentage of people who have adverse side effects to this medication.  It is highly suggest that if you're using this remedy for the first time, try using one at home first.  You don't want to find out that you have an adverse reaction to this stuff when you're several miles out at sea
Dry mouth is usually the only side effect, but that is true with most all sea sickness medications.

Also don't rub it and get any of the residue off the patch in your eyes.  The patch instructions also mentions three days in it's instructions. This seems to be because if you use it for more than three days straight it can create a reaction problem on some people.  Remember to read the instructions & if something seems to be happening out of the ordinary, to then contact your doctor,

Scopolamine Gel:
This medication is basically the same as the patch, butt is available in salve form that you rub into the palm side of your wrist skin.  It is also only available by prescription also. The Scopolamine gel made by UCP comes in unit dose, pre-loaded syringes (without the needles) and is easy to apply. You simply squirt out the pre-measured gel from the syringe onto the wrist or behind an ear and massage into the skin. It's anti-nausea effect begins in as little as 10 minutes and lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, depending on the individual. 


Possible side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, and blurred vision. These are the same as the patch except they occur sooner but the duration is much shorter.

If you have glaucoma, you should NOT use Scopolamine gel.   If you are elderly, have
bladder problems, impaired liver or kidney problems, ask your doctor before using Scopolamine in any form.

This appears to be one the best over the counter, pill form remedy.  This is the brand name, as is also Dramamine II but the common name is Meclizine.  Drowsiness is the side effect, but less so than with other brands.  To be effective you should get this medication in your system 8 hours before you board the boat.  If possible, sleep on it and take more when you board the boat and you tend to be less drowsy.  That way, it's in your system and working when you wake up. 
For maximum effectiveness, take one 25mg dose of Bonine® or Meclizine the night before your trip and another dose of 12.5 mg in the morning when you wake up.  Then take 12.5 mg every 4 hrs during the trip.  The above recommendation & dosage was supplied by a pharmacist friend that is also a scuba diver.

Plain old ginger root is what we are referring to.  You can get this in raw, powdered, dehydrated, candied, pill form, as a paste, in cookies, tea, Ginger Ale, well, you get the idea.  Just like with the wrist bands, ginger can be added along with any of the other remedies without conflicting with them.  There is no "prescribed dosage" on this stuff, as the possible usage may be varied.  However if you read the inscription on the bottle of natural herbs, it mentions 2 tablets before.  It has been found best to use 4 tablets the night before, then 2 more when you get up in the next morning, then 2 more as you board the boat, this seems to be effective on most people.  Then have ginger snap cookies to munch on along with ginger tea.

Side effects of ginger are rare when used as recommended.  Persons with a history of gallstones should consult a doctor before extended ginger usage.

Wrist Bands:
These are
acupressure point therapy wrist bands.  Sea Band® is one trade name.  Most people discount this remedy because it "sounds" like a gimmick. Adjustable and reusable, one size fits all, wrist bands use a Velcro type strap or elastic band.  Pressure is applied with the use of a polished, .25" x .55" dia, hemisphere magnet which is permanently bonded to the band.  Though some may be skeptical of this ancient Chinese practice, there are many patients who swear by it. The nice thing about this remedy is that it can be added along with any of the other remedies without conflicting with them. These bands slip on over the hands and tighten over pressure points in the palm side of the wrist.  If you try any type pressure bands, be sure to put them on before you climb aboard.

The common name is Dimenhydrinate.  Even though the package says to take at least two hours before going out, the key to Dramamine is like most other medications for sea-sickness is to take one the night before just before you go to bed, and then take 2 as soon as you wake up. Take another when boarding the boat.  Don't forget to supplement your Dramamine intake every 2-3 hrs , as to not let its effects ever run out.  

Some people say they can actually feel it's effects start to work, as a sort of drowsy mood starts and back of the throat feels different.  It does make you drowsy, but that's a lot better then being sick. 
Also, there is Dramamine II, the less drowsy version, although some people report it is not quite as effective on them. 

Gravol is found in Canada & is a trade name for the nonprescription drug dimenhydrinate.   They are inexpensive and easy to obtain.

Motion sickness: The initial dose should be taken at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 to 2 hours before departure.  The usual adult dose is 50 mg to 100 mg taken every 4 hours as needed.   Do not exceed the recommended maximum dose of 400 mg over a 24-hour period.  For adults requiring extended relief, 1 to 2 of the 75 mg long-acting capsules (or caplets) may be taken every 8 hours. 

At recommended doses, Gravol can cause drowsiness, dizziness and blurred vision.   It can impair your concentration and motor coordination.

 Dimenhydrinate is available in various strengths depending on the dosage form and brand used.  This medication is available in different dosage forms: tablets, capsules, caplets, syrup, liquid, suppositories, and injection.

Dimendydrinate should not be used by anyone with: glaucoma, chronic lung disease, difficulty passing urine due to an enlarged prostate (prostatic hypertrophy)

Queasy Pops:
  A new product on the market in summer of 2004 is a Popsicle called Queasy Pops, with a parallel product called Queasy  Drops to be available soon . 

They were developed by healthcare professionals to provide relief from the queasy stomach associated with motion sickness and chemotherapy. 

Queasy Pops are effective due to the special formulation of essential oils from natural herbs and aromatherapy, in combination with the unique delivery method.  Ongoing empirical and anecdotal research to improve and develop the unique flavors has proved satisfying for many customers. 

Queasy Pops also alleviate dry mouth, provide quick calories for a nice energy boost and are overall very soothing and comforting. 

Flavors include: ginger, lavender, peppermint, cinnamon, sour lemon, sour raspberry, papaya and green tea with lemon.  As a NEW addition, they also now offer two sugar free options: sugar free ginger and sugar free sour raspberry, both sweetened with Splenda and so tasty!  0 net carbs. 

Cost is under $3.00 for a package of 7.

Conceived by healthcare professionals.  Drug free and Doctor recommended.  All natural and delicious

Vitamin B6:
This is another potential solution as a preventative of sea sickness, a dose of vitamin B6, which also should be taken about an hour before you set sail.   A 500 mg tablet should be sufficient enough, but again – bring along an extra tablet or two if you’re planning on spending the entire day at sea.

Chewing Gum:
Simply chewing gum helps some people who succumb to sea sickness The health food stores carry a ginger gum which can also add to the effectiveness.

Keep some on the boat for people who didn't prepare for sea sickness or didn't prepare enough.  It usually helps those who are just slightly sick but it doesn't help the majority of unprepared sea sick prone people.  One thing it does for them is to help neutralize stomach acid so it doesn't burn so much on the way back up.

Promethazine & Ephedamine:
This combination has been recently recommended by an Alaskan guide.  These are both a prescription drug.  The Promethazine is a normal sea-sickness medication and the Ephedamine is a cold medication that is used to counteract the drowsiness brought on by the Promethazine.  The normal dosage is 25mg each.  This is the required medication of the Alaska USCG for sea duty personnel.  However it may be almost impossible to obtain the Ephedamine because of the abuse of it by the dopies who use it to make Methamphedamines.  And most doctors are are not going to stick their necks out to prescribe drugs not approved for usage together by the FDA.  

However recently a letter from NASA has surfaced, describing their method of avoiding sea/air sickness as related to the above.  A pharmacist friend says that about the only way a doctor will prescribe this is that if the prescription is taken to a compounding pharmacy where the 2 ingredients are mixed together.

Just a few things to keep in mind:

Do You Wear Glasses?
If you happen to wear bi-focal or tri-focal glasses that have the graduated lenses, (no distinct separation lines between the prescriptions) read on as you may be in trouble.  Your eyes are constantly trying to adjust to the lens all the time because of the rocking motion of the boat.  On these graduated lenses,  you have to raise and lower your head until the object is in focus, but with the rocking motion the eyes cannot keep up & seasickness may present itself.         

The reason for sea sickness is that the inner ear is trying to balance us like a gyroscope, in relationship to what our eyes are seeing (the motion).  And these two marvels of our body are not in total agreement on how to do the best job.

One of the first symptoms of seasickness is drowsiness.  If you take a dramamine 30 minutes before going out and you feel drowsy once you get out there, you aren't drowsy from the dramamine, you are drowsy because you are getting seasick.  A pill taken in the stomach has to hit the small intestines before it can be absorbed and that can take hours.  Taking it even 1 hour prior is no guarantee you will be benefited by the pill. 

A pill taken before bed and another chewable dissolved between your cheek and gum one hour before departure and then again every 3-1/2 hours (set your watch) works great.  No drowsiness and most don't get seasick.  The capillaries get the drug into your blood stream right away and the effect is much faster.  It works with Bonine (Meclazine) or Dramamine

Even though you think you may not be prone to getting sea sick, there may be a time when conditions are just wrong & you may join the ranks of those who wish they had never set foot onboard that day.  Therefore it may behoove you to read this sheet & get some of these preventions JUST IN CASE.

For those of you who tend to get a touch of sea sickness, take a medication & look at the suggestions below.  In all probability any good medication may fail if you DO NOT adhere to the following guidelines.

Some people have a tendency to "over do" a good thing when they're on vacation. Go easy on the dinner the night before and breakfast in the morning before you go out.  Don't stuff yourself.  Don't get drunk the night before (hangovers are even worse out at sea) and get a GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP.

There was an article by a MD who also liked to fish, published in the early 1970's that addressed sea sickness.  He concluded that it is best to get plenty of sleep the night before, and eat a light breakfast, try dry bread or a muffin and a little tea, or some food with very little grease.  Eggs and bacon and so on are NOT on the recommended breakfast list.  Then to have crackers (like Ritz) for something to munch on during the day.  His idea was to never have your stomach empty, but to have something in the stomach that would absorb some of the gastric juices.  However most liquids are not recommended.  His thoughts also were that many people are afraid they will get sea sick, and they can have an anxiety situation that aggravates the problem.  

Most people who do get sea sick, do not get sick while the boat is running, but after it is stopped & drift fishing is started.  What gets to them is the mild swells that slightly roll the boat.  In these cases it is best NOT to watch the water close to the boat, but to look out over the horizon.

I have a friend who has had to give up salt water fishing because, ever since he was a child, he has had inner ear / sinus problems.  He doesn't get vomiting sick, but has head aches,  stability problems & queasiness.  If he stays fishing in a situation like this for over one day, it can then put him in bed for a week to recover.  During this time he even has problems walking, and definitely does not want to drive a car, because of the instability.  Nothing he has tried has solved his problem & doctors have not helped, however the patch has probably come the closest for him.

There are other general tips for avoiding seasickness. If possible, sit outside on the deck of the boat to get lots of fresh air.  Always face forward, find a spot in the center of the boat that has less motion side to side.  It may also be of benefit to try to avoid an area of the boat that has the exhaust vented at (usually the stern).   Also try not to get on a boat with a completely empty stomach, as energetic gastric juices tend to promote queasiness.

Also stay away from consuming most items containing sugar.  It has been reported that after drinking or eating sugary sweets you may succumb easier.  This would include soda pop, bear claws, candy etc.

One last thing, if you have to puke, DO NOT GO INTO THE HEAD, it is a confined place.  Locking yourself in the head with your own puke stink is bad enough, but further messing up your equilibrium by taking the horizon out of your site is just going to make you sicker.  Do it over the DOWNWIND side of the boat, for obvious reasons.  For those of you who are landlubbers, downwind, is the side of the boat that the wind IS NOT blowing on.  If you heave into the wind, you will then probably want to change your clothes soon.  If you miss over the side, offer to clean it up soon.  Don't worry about your companions, as they will either be there with you or be hauling in the fish.

On the lighter side .... The best sea sickness cure for a fisherman is a screaming reel drag.  The problem here is that it is only temporary and usually ends shortly after the fish hits the fish box.  

I hope the above information may help inform some of you & allow you to have a better day on the water!

Copyright © 2004-2006 LeeRoy Wisner  All Rights Reserved

Last updated 04-29-2006
LeeRoy Wisner

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