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Don't Let Sea Sickness Spoil Your Holiday Cruise

The excitement of your approaching sea cruise needn't be spoiled with the fear of sea sickness.

However, if you tend to suffer from this illness, like many other people, the best is to take sea sickness precautions. If you haven't been to sea before, better be safe than sorry and take preventative measures.

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  • Once you're on the ship and feeling your cheeks turning green, it's a bit late. You should take anti-seasick measures before you step on board.

    For many people, it won't be an issue. These days cruise ships are very stable; in fact most are fitted with stabilizers to ensure your voyage is as smooth as possible.

    Coupled with weather forecasts which enable captains to plan their route away from rough waters, seasickness shouldn't be a big concern.

    Your body should adjust within 2 or 3 days to the new moving environment ("gaining your sea legs"), making sea sickness a thing of the past ... for that trip, at least!

    If you board in a fit, rested and healthy condition, your chances of experiencing sea sickness are also less.

    Prevention Is Better Than Cure

    Various precautionary medicines and devices are available these days to fight sea sickness. Some work well for some people and not so well for others. If it's your first trip it might be a bit of a "hit and miss" situation, but one of these should do the trick:

    1. Diet - to start off with, eat "safe" foods for about a day before boarding (nothing acidic, spicy or fatty) … and don't over indulge (food/alcohol). Eating a light "safe" meal before you board will also help reduce the risk and/or effects of seasickness. Ginger is a great choice!
    2. The motion sickness patch is probably the most popular these days - to be placed behind your ear 4 hours before boarding and changed if necessary after 72 hours. This is quite an effective way to prevent seasickness but causes things like a dry mouth and blurry vision. Better to be thirsty than sick, though! The active ingredient, scopolamine, is absorbed through the skin.

    3. Over the counter medication (usually causes some drowsiness) - to be taken 1-2 hours before boarding. The most recommended are pills with the active ingredient meclizine (less-drowsy Dramamine, Bonine, Antivert), then pills with the active ingredient Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine regular). Marezine (cyclizine) and Stugeron (cinnarizine) seem to be less sleep inducing than all of the above. Other popular antihistamines (Benadryl - diphenhydramine based) also work for some people. (Money saving tip: ask your pharmacist for the generic version of the medication you wish to take.)

    4. Homeopathic medicines - Trip Ease should be taken 2 hours before boarding but also works if you're already feeling seasick (contains 6 natural active ingredients and has no drowsiness or other side effects); or Sea Sik Oral Spray to be sprayed under your tongue 3 times a day or more if needed (contains 7 natural active ingredients and has no drowsiness or other side effects). On The Move capsules (contains ginger root, licorice root and cayenne) also help alleviate motion sickness and can also be used to combat headaches.

    5. Acupressure bracelets - a drug-free product causing no side effects - the motion sickness band is worn one on each wrist for the duration of your trip. Some contain small magnets, others just a stud, which should be aligned with a pressure point (P6) on your wrist and pressure applied periodically. This won't work very well if you "miss" the pressure point.

    6. Motion Eaze natural oil - to be applied behind the ear and is absorbed through the skin. Also effective if feeling nauseas already. No side effects.

    7. The electronic, drug-free motion sickness ReliefBand® is worn on the wrist, a kind of motion sickness watch. It emits low-level electrical pulses to avoid and treat motion sickness by calming the stomach.

    *For children, elderly folk, those using other medication, pregnant or breast feeding women - it's best to consult your doctor before taking new medication.

    To The Rescue!

    Should you have forgotten to swallow, stick, rub or sniff your chosen anti-sea sickness remedy or the seas are extremely rough and you suddenly start to sweat, turn pale, salivate and have a general feeling of discomfort, hopefully your brain will recall the file in which you stored the following information and you can still enjoy your cruise until you find your sea legs:

    DO:

    1. Look out the window (or better yet, go onto the deck and to the centre of the ship, facing forward) at a distant, stable object, like the horizon. The centre of the ship, close to the waterline, is the most stable part of the ship.
    2. Use a fan or listen to some music… this will get your mind off things.

    3. Eat some salty snacks with regular intervals to help dry up your stomach.

    4. Relax if you can - lying down and closing your eyes might help.

    5. Ginger is a natural remedy to general nausea and sea sickness. Drink ginger beer or tea, or eat fresh ginger, a cookie or suck on a ginger sweet (like Gin Gins) to help combat your green cheeks. Try Sailor's Secret, a branded ginger capsule or Quesy Pops, popsicles containing essential oils from natural herbs and aromatherapy in ginger flavour but also others like lavender, peppermint, etc. Any ginger product is most effective if taken before boarding.

    6. Some motion sickness medicine (e.g. Dramamine patches) may help to reduce the nausea at this stage. Maybe one of the most effective if you're severely seasick and vomiting, is heavy duty Phenergan Suppositories.

    7. Bitters, mint, citrus, apricot juice, carrot juice, unroasted pumpkin or squash seeds, parsley and peppermint tea are also said to help combat sea sickness but there doesn't seem to be much proof out there.

    DON'T:

    1. Read or watch television once the sea sickness has kicked in, it will make you feel worse.

    2. Drink big gulps of water. Tiny sips at intervals are better.

    3. Face backwards.

    Why do we get seasick?

    It can happen whether you're in a ship, smaller boat, a car, train… anything that moves - that's why it's called motion sickness. Sea sickness is just another name for motion sickness experienced while at sea.

    If the seas are calm, the risk of getting sick is reduced. Rough seas however, push up the sea sickness probability quite a bit. Why?

    The signals sent to your brain by your eyes and inner ears, conflict. It's called visual disorientation and means that while your inner ear detects that you are moving, your eyes (if you're looking at objects close by on the ship) detect that you're not. The result is the terrible feeling of sea sickness.

    To get rid of the nausea, you need to "override" the signals by, for example, looking at an object outside of the ship/car/train. Or get your inner ear to experience stability which is a lot more difficult on a moving ship!

    Add Your Holiday Report

    Have you been on a cruise before? Or a smaller boat ride as part of your holiday adventure? Did you get seasick? Have you found the perfect motion sickness remedy? Let us know by submitting your own travel report here...

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