Even if I seem not susceptible for it and spend a lot of times on boats . . . I always stay alert for seasickness. Seen people suffering from it ranging from a small nausea all the way from not wanting to live a minute longer. Clear enough it can spoil your mood, your dives and your holiday. Of course I am not a doctor and cannot give you the ultimate treatment that works and is absolutely safe, but . . . I can give you some pretty good advice here. So medicine, discuss with your doctor but what rests is a collection of experiences and common sense seen over the years to help in most cases.
What causes it?
The theory seems to be that when your balance organs send different information (we're moving!) to you your brain than your eyes (my cabin does seem to be stable under my feet) the result is a conflict in your brain causing motion sickness. While most hang on this theory there have been broader studies suggesting that it is perhaps even more complex, but that is probably not relevant yet for us here. What is important is that some get it, while others not. Worse even, some get it on one occasion and not on another. This last part seems to have to do with our general state of well being. If you are rested, calm and relaxed, it appears to be much less “bothering” you than when you are not. As such part of the cause is also your physical and mental state.
What could you do . . .
Avoiding is always better than curing. So how can we make the risk a low as possible.
Goodnight, sleep well!
Simple stuff! Just make sure that you are physically fit for the dives starting by making sure that you had enough sleep and can wake up in time. Important to be rested well and do not need to hurry to get ready for the boat trip or dive. Relax! It is one of the best things to do. If you are not . . . plan better next time.
Food for thoughts
In general it seems a bad idea to eat greasy or heavy stuff just before the trip. If you can, eat light, health and try to have sufficient time between the food and the trip. What is sufficient? Well that depends from person to person but probably an hour would be helpful and two hours for most of us more than enough. The idea of not having something in the stomach is a common one, but it seems not universal. I knew a captain of a dive boat in the UK that always applied the above but at the least hint of getting seasick while on board was eating dry muffins. He claimed that it was the only way to get over it.
Anything you can prepare before going on board better do so. Having to assemble or fix a thousand equipment thingies on board like cameras etc . . . not so clever if you are prone to seasickness. Reserve the time on the boat before it moves only for those things you absolutely cannot do earlier and make sure to do them calm and effective. Ideally when the boat leaves, your equipment should be all in place so you just have to drop into it and fall into the beautiful ocean when you reach the divesite.
Enjoy the view
Being believed to be a mismatch of sensor input, it appears to be helpful to make sure you can see fixed points. That is . . . if they are solid and not part of the boat. If you pass land, look at that, if there is just sea, admire the horizon. Even when you are already sick it seems to comfort most people and helps them from getting worse. Strange enough I have seen many Asian people doing exactly the opposite. Once they feel a bit sick they lie down and close there eyes. Could not really figure out if this in any way beneficially to them or just accepting the faith of being miserable. Anyway, for most of us . . . the horizon is your guide.
Location, location, location
Knowing you might be seasick choose your place on the boat well. You cannot avoid all movement, but you can decrease the amount by thinking cleverly. Big waves: often the back of the boat is more quiet. Wide boat: if you can sit in the middle, there the “rolling movement” feels less. It might be marginally, but what if that margin is exactly the difference between sick and not sick, lucky you. Be careful to stay away from any exhaust pipe as these fuses will not help your struggle.
If you book a liveaboard and are afraid to suffer in the cabin, it is probably best to choose a cabin on the lower deck as they typically move much less than the upper deck ones. True the main and upper deck ones often have windows instead of portholes and a view is possible, but that does not help very much when it is dark at night and you try to close your eyes.
Clear, you cannot choose the weather completely, but it is a given fact that some seasons are more rough than others. Really want to join a liveaboard but are afraid to be a bit seasick, try one in high season (Jan - March) when normally the weather is calm and the sea is flat. Even if you don't have a seasickness problem, this is one of the most beautiful periods in Maldives.
For some even after a year in a Zen monastery and locating themselves on a place on board the captain did not even know it existed, still seasickness pops up like flu before a weekend. Rather unwelcome but persevering! Of course then you could grab to medicine but just don’t do it without consulting a doctor! Diving remains an activity that needs your attention and drowsiness is the most common site effect of motion sickness medicines as they typically try to seduce something so that this sensor mismatch does not occur. Given the fact that you need most of your senses during a dive and that other physiological chances already occur due to pressure, approximately self medicating without a doctor should be avoided at all cost. There is a whole range out there of medicine but we noticed many people using successfully the medicine patch behind their ear. I believe there are different ones, but Transderm Scop seems to be a common used one. Don’t take it from me, again, ask your doctor to be absolutely sure, as there are also reports of serious side effects!
We have seen also many people that used a so called Seaband. This is an elastic strap around your wrist with plastic knot that pushes on your wrist. The point it pushes on is the so called New guan point which is know in acupressure to reduce nausea. We have seen people having benefitted much of this, while others claim it is just the placebo effect working. Personally I tend to believe that the placebo effect in its purest form is what we should all aim for: no chemicals in the body, no site effects and still feeling much better. What more can we ask, worth the try.
Finally I have heard also from quiet some people that drinking ginger tea seems to help. Not really sure if this is very effective, but as it is tasty, cheap and without side effects . . . why not.
Liveaboards nowadays . . .
Despite the above article, I should say that most people suffering seasickness is not such a problem as many think. The liveaboards became bigger and more stable over the years and you would not be the first one to be surprised about . . . not getting sick at all. Anyway there is a lot you can do to increase your chances as we have seen. A wise man (or woman) follows the given advices as much as possible and chances are . . . you have the best holiday of your life.
Good luck with your ears!
Be safe, but ... dive!