Transportation Travel Health

Sea and Motion Sickness

Image IlectrologosI have survived the majority of my time in Greece.  I also learned a lot and realized how little I do know.  Overall, an amazing experience and I have a lot of new topics to discuss!  A common problem I saw was motion or seasickness.  Ferry boats are very common inter-island travel and a source of a lot of problems for those who suffer from this “trip ruining” condition.

If you are one fo the unlucky people who get car, boat or air sick…there are some things you can do to help minimize the discomfort. First, one should realize the problem is not in the stomach, at all. The issue is primarily a confusion of signals being sent from the eyes, inner ear and the brain. Even though your stomach seems to be the effected spot, the problem is literally in your head.

Image JimG944One of the few studies done on sea-sickness was mentioned in the Travel and Tropical Medicine Manual. This study looked at travelers in the English Channel and Irish Sea. Involving more than 20,000 participants, the study concluded several important things:

  • Women are more likely to get seasick than men
  • The older you are, the less likely you are to suffer from seasickness
  • Nearly one-third of passengers reports feeling motions sickness symptoms including nausea, cold-sweats and weakness.


So now we know who is likely to get it, how common it is and what it feels like. How to prevent it? First, where you sit and what you focus your eyes on play a large part in basic prevention and help decrease the symptoms. Finding a comfortable seat with a smooth ride is, perhaps, most important. Avoid reading or focusing your eyes on near objects. This is because the nearer the object, the more exaggerated the movement is noticed by your brain. Try to focus on the horizon or a distant object, which will be moving less than the closer objects. Closing your eyes may also help. One interesting article looked at location of cruise ship cabins and found no association with feelings of seasickness. The study did confirm age and sex relationships.


For those that may require a bit more help that closing your eyes, there are several medications commonly used. One is scopolamine and the other type are anti-histamines. Scopolamine is famously know as the “patch” that is apparently a common fashion accessory on a cruise ship. Anti-histamines such as Benadryl and meclizine (Antivert) are also alternatives to scopolamine.

Alternative Treatments

Image tomeppyAnother option that is actually a very old method is the use of pressure bracelets or pressure bands. These use the premise of chinese accupressure and apply gentle pressure to the P6 Neiguan pressure point. Several studies have shown anti-emetic effects in pregnancy induced nausea and during medical procedures. There are no decent studies, I know of, that look at sea sickness, specifically. A few natural remedies include ginger and there are actually some interesting articles about this as an anti-emetic for pregnancy and chemotherapy.

Seasickness is something I have never experienced but I have seen it ruin many people’s trips. Most I know who have this problem actually begin to worry about the trip, days before the boat is boarded. Hopefully, this will give people a few options to combat that nasty feeling. For some more info try: CDC Yellow Book: Motion Sickness

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: