Friday, May 21, 2010

Hey, let's talk about seasickness... cures or remedies anyone???

I don't remember ever writing a post about seasickness yet. It's one of those things we see from time to time on the boat, not as often as you'd think, but it does happen.

I'll start off by saying... I'm not a Doctor! Take anything I say as being anecdotal speculation.

Now that that's over, let me tell you about myself. I used to get sick bigtime when I first started diving. I just put up with it. One day I had chocolate donettes before the dive... I lost it, tasted more like a milkshake than bile. I ate chocolate donettes before every dive boat outing from then on 'til I got turned on to Bonine. Some friends recommended Bonine and it worked for me, stuck with it for quite a while.

When I moved over here I worked in a now defuct dive shop down on Alii Drive and the manager was recommending taking 1 Bonine tablet in the evening, then one again in the morning about two hours before the charter. When I moved over to another dive shop to start working on a boat, they had the exact same recommendation. Pretty much every dive boat I've worked on had the exact same recommendation. It works pretty darned well for most people. I was on Bonine for the first couple weeks I worked on the boat, then we had some glassy flat days and I tried it without it and found I'm pretty much over the seasickness thing, on small boats anyway.

On every boat I've worked on over the years, we've seen our share of people feeling ill. Typically, we'll see people who say nothing works for them, they've tried everything, then we ask if they've tried Bonine or less-drowsy Dramamine (same active ingredient - meclizine hydrochloride) taking one pill in the evening and one pill in the morning. A lot of people are resistant to even trying it, but those that do generally feel pretty good the next day. A lot of people say it won't work because they've tried any number of things, usually with the active ingredient dipenhydramine hydrochloride, and can't stand the side effects. Well, dipenhydramin Hcl is used not only in sea sickness meds, but in Sominex, Nytol, Benedryl and other things not related to motion sickness... no wonder they're getting tired. It's primarily sold as an anti-histamine.

Anyway, from anecdotal observation, the meclizine hydrochloride pills, taken 1 the night before and 1 the morning of (so it's in your system) seems to work wonders for most people. I have seen it fail with about a half dozen people over the course of the last 11 years, for them it's time to visit the doctor and get a prescription for the patch and hope it works (nothing's fail proof, everyone's body's different).

Anyway, I managed to get past my sea sickness, except when I'm helping out on bigger boats or taking in diesel fumes on boats with older diesel engines. I'm not sure what it is about size, possibly a change in motion I'm not acclimated to, but I have a rough time of it on the big catamarans. I helped out with a now gone dive company that had a double decker catamaran a few years ago for a bit, and the second deck of that boat was really tough on me. My suspicion is that different people are set off by different motions. I talked with a Captain that worked multiple boats a few years back and he said his worst boat for people losing it was the biggest boat he drove, didn't think it was the boat so much as having that many people on board, someone's gonna get ill and then the sympathetic puking starts happening. He said he eventually broke down and brought a paint spatula to work with him during the winter months when working that boat - not sure if he was kidding or not.

Nowadays, about the only time I feel off is when eaten nothing before the charter. A little food goes a long way to fix that. I'd probably discourage a big meal, or loadiing up on bacon and grapefruit right before the dive too.

The underwater photo above is of a Yellow Margin Moray down at a coral head in the sand. When you find a nice coral head out in the sand, it can be an oasis of life. This one had bicolor anthias, cleaner shrimp, banded coral shrimp and more on this visit.




Anonymous said...

Surprisingly, but the pressure point motion sickness rist bands work very well too. I have been prone to motion sickness my whole life; airplane, car, boat, whatever. I don't like the side affects of the drugs. With the rist bands, I can actually read on an airplane and make it though a day on a wavy boat dive!

Steve said...

There's an electric pressure point band I want to get a hold of and try too, I've heard it works well, but it's a 90 buck experiment I'm holding off on.

PADI Americas (west coast team) said...

I'm with you! I'd buy stock in Bonine if I could.

I took an Alaska cruise last summer - and that's the only time it failed me. We had 20 foot seas and I was hating life. There was a small craft advisory in the lido pool!

One of the staff told me, "you should really eat something."

I thought that was a horrible idea, but was ready to try anything. Sure enough: it worked. Having a little bread and cheese worked wonders.

- Megan

Anonymous said...

Ginger pills work well for me. They are basically the same ground ginger you have in your spice cabinet in capsule form. I generally take two the night before and one every 4-6 hours and I'm good.

I got the idea from Mythbusters, which tested it and found that it worked.

Offthebeatentrack said...

I've heard chewing ginger works wonders. Never tried it though because I'm lucky enough to have never suffered from motion sickness :)

Steve said...

Thanks everyone.

There's lots of remedies that will do the trick in many cases. Ginger, ginger ale, pressure point bands, the patch, etc. After watching people get sick on most alternative methods for the last decade, I tend to recommend Bonine first... it's got a good track record of success.