How To Prevent Seasickness – The Essential Guide

If you’ve just decided to travel by boat and are about to lift anchor, here are some tips to help prevent seasickness

Before revealing our tips, however, let’s investigate what causes seasickness.

What is Seasickness

Seasickness is a disorder that occurs in some people while traveling aboard by ships, speedboats, or boats in general.

how to prevent seasickness
How to prevent seasickness

There are some people who are affected by traveling on any means of transport: this disorder is known as motion sickness. It is not the movement itself that causes the disorder, as is mistakenly thought, but it depends on how the brain receives the stimuli through the eyes and the vestibular apparatus which, as we know, is the organ responsible for the balance.

Seasickness is nowadays considered a real medical condition also known as naupathy.

In medical language we speak of motion sickness, that is, a malaise caused by irregular and/or rhythmic movements of the body.

What are the causes of seasickness?

The primary cause of this condition is a deviation between what the eye sees and what the body feels. So the seasickness disorder can be caused by incorrect communication of the eyes and the vestibular apparatus with the brain.

In practice, our brain receives different information from vestibular stimuli – which regulate balance – and visual ones, which help us understand our presence in space.

In summary, the information arrives from the eyes to be still, while the signal for movement arrives from the vestibular apparatus, the organ responsible for the balance.

These two contrasting stimuli create an uncoordination from which an alarm signal is generated that involves the whole organism. The first system that is blocked is the one related to digestion

Is there any age or gender limit for seasickness

The incidence of the different motion sicknesses varies extremely according to the different contexts. On a ship, up to 25% of passengers suffer from seasickness, this incidence drops to 4% for motion sickness, less than 1% in airplanes, and 0.13% on trains. While up to 80% of astronauts will suffer from space adaptation syndrome during the first 3 days of the mission.

Susceptibility to these disorders varies greatly with age. It is very rare in children under the age of 2, possibly due to a lack of sufficient visual stimuli. The most susceptible are children between 6 and 12 years of age to decrease significantly with the onset of puberty.

It has also been seen that women are more susceptible than men of the same age both in terms of frequency and intensity of the symptoms developed, especially during pregnancy

Neural mechanisms of seasickness

Based on the theory of sensory conflict it has been shown that the stimuli of the vestibular system are processed at the hippocampus level, where they are compared with the already stored patterns. In the event of a conflict, this leads to an increase in the release of acetylcholine from the hippocampus, generating the neural mismatch signal.

The latter, in turn, determines the activation of the histaminergic neurons of the hypothalamus with a consequent release of histamine. This will activate the H1-type receptors at the vomiting center in the medulla oblongata causing the typical symptoms of seasickness

The symptoms of seasickness

We are traveling: maybe we are admiring the view, or chatting with friends, reading, or writing. While it seems that everything is calm, a feeling of indefinite malaise sets in, affecting the visual perception of motion and space.

This feeling is often accompanied by a state of anxiety that makes it impossible to continue carrying out the activities that were being conducted. Other symptoms that may appear later are:

● cold sweat
● paleness
● headache
● nausea
● vomiting

Other common symptoms are:

  • increased salivation
  • lack of appetite
  • headache
  • blurred vision
  • hyperventilation
  • decrease in blood pressure

In severe cases, these can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Usually, once the triggers are eliminated, the symptoms resolve completely within 24 hours. In the case of prolonged exposure to the same stimuli, some people manage to adapt with a progressive reduction of the symptoms developed. This adaptation process obviously varies from person to person.

The olfactory stimuli can accentuate the feeling of nausea. As well as the state of anxiety, perhaps linked to the fear of vomiting, worsens the symptomatological picture.

If you often or frequently suffer from seasickness and rarely manage to hold back vomiting, it is advisable to keep a plastic bag or bag next to you, which will lessen the fear of having to vomit suddenly.

If the nausea is accentuated by the smells present in the ship or boat, it is advisable to change positions and perhaps choose an outdoor accommodation. It should also be remembered that all symptoms disappear more or less quickly at the end of the trip.

They can catch us during any type of movement, whether it is a car, plane, or, in the case of the sea, the boat.

In fact, seasickness can really affect everyone, from the most experienced navigator to the occasional passenger (according to legends, even Julius Caesar suffered from it!). The intensity depends on several factors such as the duration of the voyage, the state of the sea, and the type of vessel.

What to do about seasickness?

The only way to get rid of seasickness is to return to the mainland. That’s right, unfortunately, there is no other way to reduce nausea and all the other symptoms than to stop the oscillatory movement of the vehicle we are on.

However, there are a number of tricks to prevent and relieve the symptoms of seasickness.
All true sailors know that there are 4 main factors that contribute to seasickness:

Food habit

Before embarking on the journey, in fact, it is important to rest well and arrive at boarding safely.
In addition, it is always better to eat lightly and balanced: leaving on an empty stomach is not a good idea, but gorging yourself before departure would also have a bad effect.

We, therefore, recommend that you have a healthy snack, perhaps with something dry, and hydrate yourself: freshwater is the best choice, even better if sparkling.

8 Seasickness remedies:

Without going any further with the explanations, let’s move on to the seasickness remedies that we have summarized for you.

Here are 8 tips to counter seasickness:

1. Breath deeply

Oxygen is your friend to combat the symptoms of seasickness, try not to stay in closed or poorly ventilated places.

Instead, lie down in the center of the boat, on your back. Here the oscillations will be less pronounced and the air will be fresher. Place one hand on the upper part of the belly, and the other on the stomach, then slowly inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth: you will avoid hyperventilation.

2. Stay towards the center of the boat

As we said, at the center of the boat the oscillations are less pronounced, so try to favor this part of the boat.

3. Fix the horizon

It may seem trivial, but it isn’t. In fact, setting the horizon will help you not only calm the nausea, but also relax. Since the horizon is a fixed point, your eyes (and consequently your whole body) will be grateful to you for the feeling of stability.

4. Try and stay calm

If you start to feel the first symptoms, getting agitated and nervous will only make the situation worse, as they promote seasickness. So try to stay calm and positive and focus on other types of thoughts.

5. Becareful what you eat before your journey

As mentioned previously, it is always better to tackle a crossing with a full stomach, but without eating too much. We recommend that you choose foods that are low in fat and easy to digest.

6. Avoid Alcohol

In order not to irritate your body, already put to the test by seasickness, even more, we advise you to avoid both alcohol and smoking.

7. A good night’s rest the night before travelling

This advice is practically a must to tackle traveling.

In addition, tiredness strongly aggravates seasickness, so we recommend that you rest before and during your trip to the sea.

A few naps during the trip will help you calm down and help lessen the annoying sensations associated with the sea.

8. Stay warm and cover up

Another ally for any respectable offshore trip is the fleece sweater. Staying warm will provide for a more comfortable trip.

How to prevent seasickness with medicines

Seasickness can be considered a behavioral disorder, so you should not need drug treatment. However, especially in the case of particularly anxious travellers, it is possible to find various products on the market, including natural ones, against seasickness and ongoing symptoms.

The most often used drugs are based on scopolamine, promethazine, and dimenhydrinate. These active ingredients are characterized by an antihistamine, calming, or anticholinergic action. Medication should be taken half an hour before leaving for oral administration (always read the instructions on the box).

There are also patches on the market that can be placed behind the ear two hours before leaving. There are also chewing gum formulations, which must be taken when the feeling of discomfort begins during the trip.

Before taking these drugs it is preferable to ask your doctor for advice, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or suffer from some chronic disease.


Scopolamine is extremely effective in the prevention and treatment of motion sickness and is preferred by those who want to remain vigilant while traveling. This drug acts as a non-selective antagonist of acetylcholine receptors (muscarinic cholinergic), inhibiting inputs to the vomiting centers thereby reducing the neural mismatch signal

Scopolamine is frequently used in the form of a transdermal patch applied behind the ear, between 8 and 4 hours before the start of the trip. The effects last up to 72 hours. on the one hand, it allows bypassing the reduced gastric absorption capacity that occurs in these cases and also allows to maintain high blood levels in the long term, despite its short half-life.

The side effects of this medication may include:

dry mouth
blurred vision
dilation of the pupils
dermatitis at the site of application
Scopolamine can also be taken orally to have rapid protection (within 30 minutes for 4-6 hours). Finally, scopolamine can be injected intramuscularly if symptoms, including vomiting, have already occurred


Antihistamines reduce the symptoms of seasickness by blocking the link between the neural mismatch signal and the vomiting center. Several first-generation antihistamines, such as cinnarizine, are effective in the prevention and treatment of seasickness. Their effectiveness is due both to the blocking of histamine receptors at the level of the vomiting centers and to anticholinergic properties. These drugs have a slower action than scopolamine but are prolonged over time.

The most serious side effects are:

severe sleepiness
decreased attention
To these are added:

dry mouth
blurred vision
On the contrary, second-generation antihistamines do not work against seasickness as they are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier (the barrier that allows regulating the passage of substances between the brain and the blood)

Monoamine antagonists

The dopamine receptors (D2 and D3) are involved in the control of the sense of nausea at the level of the vomiting center. Intravenous or intramuscular (but not oral) administration of metoclopramide, a competitive D2 receptor antagonist, has been shown to relieve motion sickness symptoms.


These drugs, such as ephedrine, which acts as activators of catecholamines, are used in combination with scopolamine or antihistamines to mitigate their side effects.

Bestselling Seasickness Prevention Products

Alternative therapies

Some studies show that maintaining a certain pressure (acupressure) at the level of point P6 in the writst is effective in the treatment of seasickness. there a re several products avalable, here are some bestsellers:

Others see some effectiveness in ginger ( Zingiber officinale ). In both cases, the possible mechanisms of action are not yet well known and the studies are not entirely conclusive.

It must also be taken into account that 45% of patients who develop seasickness show benefits simply following the intake of a placebo


Seasickness and motion sickness, in general, are easier to prevent than to treat. Simple gestures can be very effective in preventing the development of symptoms. Before traveling, susceptible individuals should avoid heavy meals, ingestion of caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of fluids.

While traveling you should stay well hydrated and avoid a closed environment and smoke. Reducing sensory conflict can slow the onset or decrease the severity of symptoms. For this, you should avoid watching screens or reading, while it can help to look in the direction of travel. In some cases, it may be helpful to close your eyes and lie down. Studies show that focusing on the rhythm of breathing or listening to pleasant music can help relieve symptoms.

for emergencies always carry seasickness medication or an alternative like a seasickness writstband to prevent your journey from becoming uncomfortable.

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