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10 Real Reasons People Get Sea-sick

Posted February 15th, 2012
by Staff Writer (no comments)

For many landlubbers with dreams of sailing, the sometimes debilitating specter of seasickness can put a damper on their fantasies. Though the root cause of seasickness is almost always motion sickness, there are some triggers that can exacerbate the situation. Here are ten of the most common triggers for the nausea that strikes on the open seas.

  1. Going Below Deck – Spending too much time below deck can trigger a bout of seasickness or greatly aggravate one that’s already underway. If going below can’t be avoided, looking out of a window or porthole without fixing upon the horizon can help.
  2. Binoculars – Though part of the appeal of a sailing trip is the view, using a pair of binoculars for more than the time it takes to glance around can be a nausea trigger.
  3. Focusing On One Point – Reading, staring at a fixed point using a compass or deciphering a map can all affect your perception of movement, which can result in seasickness.
  4. Stuffy Cabin Air – Though it’s tempting to hunker in a cabin until the queasiness passes, staying above deck and breathing the fresh air can do wonders for alleviating symptoms.
  5. Vestibular Disturbances – The technical cause for seasickness lies in the disturbances in the vestibular system that come from the inner ear, eyes and body all sending differing signals to the brain. As a result of this confusion, some people can become disoriented and nauseated.
  6. Alcohol – Though drinking and boating are a well-publicized bad pairing, there are some who imbibe while aboard. Many parties are thrown aboard yachts, where heavy drinking and vestibular disturbances come together to create an explosive show.
  7. Improper Diet – Though going out on the water with an empty stomach is just as bad, a heavily-spiced fatty meal will wreak havoc with a motion sickness-prone stomach.
  8. Over-Thinking It – Though it sounds counterproductive, keeping yourself busy and your mind working on other things can prevent the worst of your symptoms. Focusing on the nausea doesn’t give your body a chance to be distracted.
  9. Choppy Water – Even those who are resistant to motion sickness can be affected by choppy water that intensifies movement. While the gently swaying motion of a boat on calm water can be relaxing for some, the pitching and heaving of unsteady water is often too much for even seasoned sailors.
  10. Visual Disorientation – The feeling of visual orientation, which is a major player in the world of seasickness, is exacerbated by facing backwards. Try to be conscious of where your eyes are resting; if necessary, close your eyes altogether to avoid spatial confusion and aid in relaxation.

Even the most sensitive to seasickness tend to get their “sea legs” within a couple of days, so don’t fret if you’ve already shelled out money for a cruise. Arm yourself with the all of the information you can find, and remember that the misery won’t last forever.



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