SEA SICKNESS _ Akademik Ioffe (Quark)
More sea-going tourists have had their vacation ruined by seasickness than by all other mishaps put together! The most susceptible are the elderly and those who have no recent experience at sea. If these people go aboard a ship exhausted from air travel and worried about sea sickness, etc. then they are almost bound to later be afflicted.
The least susceptible are those who have:
• Studied the illness and its remedies
• Made adequate planning and preparations
• Left their troubles at home
• Learned how to avoid the triggers that precipitate on-set of illness
• Recognize early symptoms, and take immediate action
• Are confident that their preventive measures will work
There is no immunity. Even Admiral Lord Nelson of Trafalgar was often stricken with it.
There is no panacea. The most advanced medicines are of little help to some people.
Prevention (and quick action) is the finest remedy. Since there is no treatment or medicine that will rapidly cure the illness in its advanced stage (Point of no Return). But prevention is complicated by the tricky nature of the illness as well as often-conflicting, even fictitious, advice published by various authorities.
Consider the following two hypotheses that are based on known facts:
1. If 100 tourists, selected at random, were to take a long voyage at sea, 30 of them would suffer from sea sickness. If the same trip were repeated 5 years later, again 30 would become sick, but very likely not the same people!
2. If the same 100 tourists had been given pills said to prevent sea sickness, but the pills were actually only placebos, it is likely that only 15 of them would become sick!
These statements demonstrate that seasickness is indiscriminate and is largely psychosomatic (mental).
With this information in mind, the monograph that follows describes in detail the nature of the illness as well as the history and state-of-the art for its prevention and treatment. More importantly, it ends with an arsenal of preventive and remedial measures, in two simple lists. Each list is compiled in approximate chronological order:
What to do.
What not to do.
For more than three centuries the weapon of choice for mariners has been ginger. For many, it still is.
(A recent episode of the popular TV series, Myth Busters, tested various medicines for severe motion sickness only to find that ginger was the one that seemed to work best.) (LOL) Ginger can be taken in many forms such as pills, cookies, even ginger ale or ginger beer. It has no adverse side effects and does not interfere with other medications.
Before the spice trade brought ginger to the western world the best-known remedy was boiled chicken. Afterwards it gradually evolved into chicken soup, which even today is widely recognized as an effective.anti-emetic.
The first formulated medical pill was developed at McGill University by Dr. Wilder Penfield at the request of the Canadian Armed Forces during WWII. It reduced the incidence in soldiers shipped overseas from 30% to 6%, while a placebo reduced it to 13%. The active ingredient was a mild narcotic derivative that Penfield coined “thiobarbiturate”.
Since that time, over-the-counter drugs have been developed such as Gravol. These simple remedies are basically just anti-histamines (common cold pills).
More effective prescription drugs, such as Bonamine, aka Dramamine (meclizine), or Phenegran* (promethazine), added a mild opiate (like codeine) to the anti-histamine. A problem with these pills is they are sought by drug dealers that can extract the opiate and convert it into “Crystal Meth”. As a result some physicians are averse to prescribing them and pharmacists reluctant to dispense the opiate component, a controlled substance. This may be the reason why Pfizer no longer manufactures Bonamine.
* Recommended by Quark
The most popular medicine today is scopolamine (first discovered as a truth serum by the evil Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele). It comes in a small patch to be placed on the scalp beneath the hair line and just behind the ear. For some people the side effects can be dreadful. Wash your hands after application and first thing every morning. If you touch the patch and then rub your eyes, you could be in deep trouble!
Also popular is Taurine. Apparently it acts well with ginger and is available in pill form. You can also drink it by downing a can of Red Bull (or a generic equivalent).
The least expensive medicine is Motion Eaze, available at Wal-Mart. It’s an aromatic oil you dab behind the ears. Motion Eaze contains a proprietary blend of the following herbal oils: Birch, Chamomile, Frankincense, Lavender, Myrrh, Peppermint, and Ylang-Ylang. Most people find it of little or no help.
Some people wear the Wrist Band. It fastens with Velcro and holds a small ball that presses against a recognized acupressure point that is one inch above the inside of the wrist crease.
Surprisingly, there is little attention paid to the psychosomatic (mental) aspects, despite adequate evidence that this characteristic is at least half the battle. A new drug may anticipate a good profit but there is no financial reward promised for a psychological breakthrough.
Seasickness can afflict people in varying degrees when they experience swaying motions, like yawing and pitching. These motions are most likely to occur when traveling in rough seas. The worst situation occurs when the ship is ‘running’ (travelling downwind).
Sea sickness is caused by defective messaging from the body to the central nervous system (CNS). Normal brain function is then interfered with by conflicting signals originating from the eyes, the leg muscle receptors and especially an over-stimulated inner ear (responsible for maintaining proper balance). The brain malfunction is concerned with the actions of ‘serotonin’, a neural transmitter known as “the happy hormone” and its intricate relation to the secretion of its natural antagonists that are anti-emetics. (They fight nausea and vomiting.)
In simple terms: Your brain is normally already well equipped to fight the onset of seasickness; usually you have to screw things up to get sick.
Mild cases produce minimal nausea; while severe cases can cause vomiting, retching (dry heaves), dizziness, unsteady walk, loss of balance and coordination, drowsiness and even exhaustion. However, it is not fatal - if you don’t count those washed overboard while floundering about on a lower deck.
Usually the first symptoms are yawning and drowsiness, then abnormal fatigue and lethargy, but if you already are tired or suffering a common cold these symptoms may go unrecognized. For many people, the first obvious signs are slight sweating and “stomach awareness” (which later turns to nausea).
There is no scientific, medical diagnostic test to confirm whether or not you have seasickness. Some people misdiagnose their illness – what they have is not a motion sickness; they just have an ordinary upset stomach caused by ingesting foreign bacteria or they are suffering the effects of a new flu virus.
Best places to be:
No symptoms: on the Bridge
Mild symptoms: lower deck, mid-ship (waves permitting)
Severe symptoms: leeward stern rail.(waves permitting)
Really severe symptoms: the ship’s hospital (Deck 5)
Worst places to be:
No symptoms: below deck, deep in the hold
Mild symptoms: passenger cabin
Severe symptoms: Sitting crouched in the sauna bath
Really severe symptoms: enclosed in a toilet stall
WHAT TO DO
Get enthusiastic about the great trip you will have!
Get a flu shot.
Get medical insurance coverage, if only to help relieve a hidden anxiety.
Eat some of the different foods you later expect to consume on the trip.
Eat lots of ginger (Vitamin B6 makes ginger even more effective.)
Take a Vitamin B Complex (The B’s are synergistic, so take them all)
Leave your troubles at home
Rise out of your airplane seat every once in a while and stretch.
Drink lots of fluids. Coca Cola is beneficial; Diet Coke is not.
Eat 4 or 5 small meals per day instead of 2 or 3 large ones.
Eat some figs and raisins (best acid neutralizers)
Smile broadly at everyone you meet in port and on shipboard
Stay out of your ship’s cabin except for sleeping or napping
Secure yourself in a comfortable position, and then close your eyes to take a nap
Build up your confidence (Talk to yourself.)
Listen to music (it’s a good distraction, especially if you sing to yourself along with it)
Listen to an “audio book” version of a book you would otherwise read.
Listen attentively to a short-wave radio.
Chew gum (ginger or peppermint flavored gum is best.)
Look out a large cabin window. Peeking out a porthole won’t work, the idea being to obtain a wide view of the horizon in your peripheral vision.
Get some sunshine and lots of fresh air (Getting plenty of natural light will boost your mood and your energy.)
Err on the side of overdressing. It is easier to shed excess clothing on deck than to go below while sick.
Walk around on deck to get your sea legs. Pace yourself and stop at intervals.
Choose footwear with non-slip soles
Play a deck game or toss around a frisbee
Focus on the far horizon where a real (or imaginary) iceberg is seen floating - You needn’t try to stare steadfastly at the horizon. It is fine to look around.
Breathe deeply and slowly.
Put a plug in your left ear (if right-handed)
Locate the acupuncture point at the middle of your forearm 2 cm above the wrist line at the palm. Use your thumb to press on it. Then, using medium force and speed, rub in tiny circles for two minutes.
Throw up overboard while on deck; not confined in a toilet stall below.
Pinch your nose before you throw up.
Swallow some fluid afterwards, like chicken soup. (If it’s just water or juice, eat something like a soda cracker, as well.) Your net loss of water, glucose and electrolyte due to vomiting will be much reduced.
Report to the hospital on Deck 5 - while you can still make your way without stumbling or crawling.
WHAT NOT TO DO
Take any unrelated drugs - especially Melatonin for jet lag/insomnia.
Over-indulge with heavy foods and strong drink
Exercise to exhaustion while hiking te park before the ship’s departure
Let your stomach go empty: snack on a trail mix as required.
Worry about sea sickness or anything else that is stressful (like your lost baggage)
And, On the Drake Passage _
Read a book or do a crossword puzzle.
Diddle with your camera, laptop or iPod.
Search long and hard for something small you dropped on the floor.
Wear graduated bifocal glasses. Your eyes are constantly trying to adjust to the lens because of the rocking motion of the ship. This can trigger nausea.
Wear goggles on deck, or anything else that restricts peripheral vision
Stare at length through binoculars or a telescope
Sit or stand inert on deck, leaning against the rail or coaming, passively letting the motion toss you around
Race your breathing or hyper-ventilate
Take aspirin. If you must, take a less acidic pill instead, like Advil (ibuprophen).
Take more antihistamine-based drugs after you throw up (you are already dehydrated enough!)
Wait until the point of no return before seeking medical aid.
In really severe weather the ship’s captain may order all passengers confined to their cabins. In this case, follow only the applicable items on the lists above. If you bed or bunk is oriented in the same direction as the ship’s travel, consider putting the mattress on the floor at right angles (perpendicular to the length of the ship). To take a nap or go to sleep, secure yourself first with some bulky items that will help restrict movement.