As a diver, you’ll generally spend more time on boats than you will exploring the underwater world. Feeding the fish, mal de mer, seasickness — call it what you like, but most divers will experience this very uncomfortable feeling at least once in their diving careers. Here are a few tips on how to stop seasickness from spoiling your fun.
What is seasickness?
Seasickness is a form of motion sickness, experienced most often in choppy seas or on long passages like a cruise. A popular theory as to why we get seasick (or motion sick) is that the sensory inputs your brain is receiving are incongruous. For example, when you’re on a boat your eyes might “see” that your surroundings are not moving, perhaps when you’re below decks, inside, or looking down at your dive gear. At the same time, your inner ear senses the motion of the boat. Because of these two conflicting sensory inputs, your brain thinks that you might be hallucinating. It believes that this hallucination may be the effect of poison and so causes nausea in an attempt to get rid of this poison.
How can I prevent seasickness?
A number of drugs can help prevent seasickness, but most of them make you feel drowsy and thus are inappropriate for scuba divers. Try some of the following to settle your tummy next time you’re on a dive boat:
- Look at the horizon. By looking up and out, the difference in the signals that your eyes and ears pick up diminishes because your eyes are taking the swaying of the boat into account.
- Change your diet. What you eat can have a big influence on how you feel out on the water. Green apples are said to settle the stomach; the same goes for Coke, as it contains phosphoric acid and sugar. Avoid oily or spicy food, as well as dairy products. Salty crackers are generally a good pre-dive snack. Ginger in any form is also a good remedy to counter nausea.
- If you cannot keep it in, let it out. Vomiting could make for a much more pleasant experience and could solve the problem. Just remember to do this downwind!
- Wear a sea band. You can find these special straps at most pharmacies. They work on stimulating an acupuncture point on the inside of your wrist said to counter nausea.
- Try a scopolamine transdermal patch. You’ll need a prescription from your doctor for these patches, worn on the skin behind your ear. Each one is meant to be worn for three days, and they can cause drowsiness, so watch for side effects.
- Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol while you’re on the boat. Alcohol dehydrates your body, which makes you more susceptible to seasickness.
- Don’t play musical chairs. Where you sit on the boat could prevent or resolve your seasickness symptoms. Sitting in the middle of the boat, facing the front, will help you as there might be slightly less movement in that area and you can easily keep your eyes on the horizon.
- Sit where you can get plenty of fresh air, focus on relaxing and stay away from other mal de mer sufferers.
Do you have any other seasickness remedies? We’d love to hear about them!