Nothing ruins your eagerly awaited dive trip more than feeling seasick on the boat while you head to the dive site. Some of us unfortunate ones are more prone than others to feel seasick, otherwise known as motion sickness, but all of us are susceptible. Motion sickness symptoms develop when we are standing or sitting solidly on something that happens to be moving – boats, planes, and cars are the most common places we can feel sick. Our brains receive conflicting messages from our eyes and body about what’s happening – we seem to be still but we are moving. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, sweating, vomiting and basically just feeling rotten.
The best thing you can do is to try to prevent the seasickness symptoms before they develop. Once you feel sick, you’re pretty much stuck until you get off the boat and back onto solid land.
#1) Eat!: While this may seem like a no-brainer, sometimes we have to get up so early to meet the boat, we don’t have time or feel like eating much. Boating on an empty stomach is almost a surefire way to develop symptoms, so make sure you eat something fairly substantial. Just avoid greasy or acidic food — go for carbs and protein like a bagel with peanut butter or if you’re really pressed for time, grab a few nut-based nutrition bars. Bring some crackers to snack on, and for some, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy helps.
#2) Drink!: No, not alcoholic drinks, but water and electrolyte drinks like Gatorade will prevent dehydration, which can also make you feel ill. You may not realize it when you’re gliding through cool water, but you are losing fluids, so make sure you drink plenty before and after each dive. Speaking of alcohol, go easy the night before because hangovers are another surefire way to feel cruddy the next morning.
#3) Stay Above Deck and Do Something: You may feel like going below and lying down if your boat has a cabin, but don’t. Stand up topside in the fresh air and engage in a conversation, listen to music or an audio book. Keeping your mind focused on something helps suppress nausea. However, DON’T read, play video games, mess with your smartphone or dive computer; avoid doing anything that causes you to focus on close, stationary targets.
#4) Take Medication: Both over-the-counter and prescription medications can prevent motion sickness symptoms. Bonine, Dramamine, Marazine are common OTC ones to try, although they can make you drowsy and have other side effects. You might want to read some reviews and try them out well in advance of your trip to see which ones you tolerate best. If you’re really prone to seasickness, ask your doctor about the Transderm Scop, a prescription skin patch you wear behind your ear before you even get on the boat. As a matter of fact, almost all of these medications perform better if you start taking them the night before your boat trip.
#5) Alternatives to Medication: Many people have success staving off the malevolent symptoms by wearing an anti-nausea band such as Sea Bands, which is basically a bracelet that applies pressure to specific acupressure points. Others swear by eating foods with ginger such as gingersnap cookies or even crystalized ginger. Peppermint and other plant-based candy have also received praise for their stomach-calming properties. Eating green apples is another option to try.
#6) Don’t Suppress the Urge Once It Hits: If you still end up feeling awful and need to vomit, just make sure you do it over the side, downwind – don’t use the boat’s head (toilet). You’ll actually feel better once you do get sick. You’ll also feel better getting into the water, so gear up and jump in as soon as you can. You might think you’re too seasick to dive, but you’ll likely end up feeling worse sitting on the boat as it rolls in the waves.
Anxiety also contributes to seasickness, so if you tend to feel anxious before a dive, consider taking another dive course. As you gain knowledge and experience under the supervision of a dive instructor, you’ll naturally feel less anxious.
Do you get sea sick? What helps you? Let us know in the comments section below!