Dealing with Seasickness

heartheart Member
edited June 2012 in General Discussion
I'm working out in Kailua Beach this month (what fun!) and am finding the chop incredibly challenging. Gusty winds in the islands are creating really tall waves and one is tossed from side to side. The seasickness wears me out and I end up swimming a lot less than I'm used to, yardage-wise. I've started using Bonine, but to no avail. Tips/advice?
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  • Powdered ginger can help calm sea-sickness. I get powdered ginger caplets at the store and start taking three with meals before a big event. I have had varying results. It is worth trying though. I have also used scopolamine patches on relays (but not during training or solo events)
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    +1 on powdered ginger caplets (though I haven't tried the control condition). I have scop patches for the upcoming season of observations, but I think they're considered inadvisable for swimmers.
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    I used a patch for the first time for my Catalina swim (I know - never try something you haven't first tried in practice). I was worried about the boat ride to Catalina. It worked great. I've never felt so good while below deck, and fell asleep on the way over.
  • heartheart Member
    What sort of patch is it? The swells here are killin' me. Yesterday's 6km felt like an episode of Horatio Hornblower. (I know, I know, trouble in paradise.)
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    It is a prescription you have to get from your doctor. Good for up to 3 days. Not something you'd use all the time for training. http://www.transdermscop.com/transderm-scop-patient-information.htm

    I had one swimmer tell me that they take dramamine and Nodoz together. They get motion sickness very easily. I'm not sure this is something I would try but if you need dramamine to combat motion sickness and you don't want to get lethargic/sleepy from it, I guess it is something to consider.
  • heartheart Member
    This is all very good advice. Thanks, folks.
  • jendutjendut Member
    I have found that earplugs seem to help a bit with equilibrium. Personally I have never had trouble being "drowsy" while swimming (!), but dramamine never worked for me at all for the nausea anyway. Acupuncture can be effective- there is a leave-in tiny needle that goes on your ear which actually was effective once for me (in combination with meds)... Scop patch is good- works for travel for me but not nec for truly wide open/no visible skyline or horizon water (it also does not stay on very well in salt water, but probably could be taped on to stay). Clearly I could go on, having fed fish around the world, but I will just leave it at that!
  • If getting motion sick were an Olympic event, I'd be a gold medalist. It's so bad that when I even smell jet exhaust, I get sick. (Hello, Dr. Pavlov...) For me, ginger is the only thing that works and it works well. I take several capsules right before bed the night before travel/race, several when I get up and several about 45 minutes before the race start. If the race is going to be > 4 hours, I take several at 4-ish hours.

    Scopolamine patches can have rough side effects - I get sleepy and the world's worst dry mouth - although they do work.

    Research seems to indicate that sedating medicines (dramamine, scopolamine, etc) are actually the wrong way to go and that things like amphetamines might work better. I know that my friend, Bob Voy, who was, at one time, chief medical officer for the US Olympic Committee, swears that sedating medicines are poor seconds to meds that rev you up.

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    edited June 2012
    A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.... Spike Milligan
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Love Spike Milligan
    I told you I was ill....
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    When I used to fly for a living, there were two remedies that us flyers used. If your problem was the stomach, then ginger pills (or real ginger soda like you can get at Trader Joe's or Whole Paycheck). If the problem was middle-ear, then aspirin.

    There was a third remedy, that a pregnant (first trimester) woman swore by: pressure bracelet, that odd hokey-looking thing with two small metal balls on the ends, you wear on your wrist and the balls hit your inner wrist. She was motion-sick (actually, morning sick) bad and when she wore the bracelet it went away immediately.

    Of course, wearing a bracelet probably isn't an option for marathon swimmers. ;)
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member

    Research seems to indicate that sedating medicines (dramamine, scopolamine, etc) are actually the wrong way to go and that things like amphetamines might work better. I know that my friend, Bob Voy, who was, at one time, chief medical officer for the US Olympic Committee, swears that sedating medicines are poor seconds to meds that rev you up.

    -LBJ

    @Leonard_Jansen- I've been trying to find solutions for my mom's severe sea sickness issues. She desperately wants to be on my boat when I swim the English Channel in a month, but I'm not sure I can deal with the guilt of her barfing for hours on end. I shared with her some of the info from this discussion and she wanted me to find out what exactly you mean by amphetamines- what could she legally take that might work better than dramamine, which has no impact?
  • ssthomas said:


    @Leonard_Jansen- I've been trying to find solutions for my mom's severe sea sickness issues. She desperately wants to be on my boat when I swim the English Channel in a month, but I'm not sure I can deal with the guilt of her barfing for hours on end. I shared with her some of the info from this discussion and she wanted me to find out what exactly you mean by amphetamines- what could she legally take that might work better than dramamine, which has no impact?

    Well... I wasn't trying to promote amphetamine usage. So, here is the usual disclaimer: I am not a doctor; I don't even play one on TV. Seek a physician's guidance and anyone who listens to me should have their head examined. Do not remove tag under penalty of law.

    That said...

    Something like (generic & extended release) Adderall or dexedrine are stimulants of the sort I am talking about. These can be used legally in the US for ADHD and narcolepsy, although some physicians also prescribe them for treatment-resistant depression. Keep in mind that there are many places where these are class I drugs, meaning that they often can't be brought into a country even if you have a 'script here in the U.S. Wikipedia is a good place to read about this.

    Note that Ginger (but not MaryAnne - sorry, couldn't resist) and scopolamine also work for me. It sounds like your mom & I are in the same situation and I'd be far more inclined to go that route than with stimulants given potential side-effects. (This is experience speaking on that topic.) Either that, or I'd get a few serious tranquilizers and if she gets too sick, have her take one and then sleep the rest of the time - you usually don't get seasick when asleep.

    I share her pain. Good luck.

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • jendutjendut Member
    If the problem was middle-ear, then aspirin.

    AHA! Now THAT makes sense because exedrin migraine actually is my best defense thus far- mine is head-injury induced motion sickness. By the way, bracelet did nothing for me- threw up every day of 2 pregnancies. Skinniest I have ever been!
  • NiekNiek Member
    edited August 2012
    Like I wrote in another post:

    The very experienced sailing skipper we frequently use here in the Netherlands tells us not to eat apples or drink apple juice.
    They increase the chance of seasickness/motionsickness.
    Ginger decreases it. Ginger can be consumed in all kind of styles like cookies, tea, ginger-ale...
    He´s a professional sailing skipper and sails across the Atlantic almost every winter so he knows what he´s talking about.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • JenAJenA Member
    edited August 2012
    It might be a good idea to take ginger a couple days before you swim.

    Ginger Reduces Chemotherapy Nausea, Study
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150176.php

    Taking ginger three days before chemo -- in addition to regular anti-nausea drugs -- reduced nausea by 40% over people taking the anti-nausea drugs alone.
  • SharkoSharko Sonoma County, CAMember
    I don't get sea sick..but many of my fellow swimmers at the South End, including me, drink warm ginger tea before swims...probably helps with the sea sickness and warms one up for a cold water swim....I used the 5 hr energy drink, for the first time, on a recent support role as feeder kayaker etc, on a Catalina swim for a friend and it seemed to work well at keeping me alert for a number of hours and no real side affects...the product has some caffeine in it but apparently there are herbal products that are also stimulative...and since I don't get sick I am not sure that this is a possibility...but since there were no real side affects it might help???
    "I never met a shark I didn't like"
  • mpfmarkmpfmark Teesside England Charter Member
    Im particularly interested in this thread...I recently travelled to the start of a marathon swim on the pilot boat and found myself (togther with most of my crew all of whom were very experienced) projectile vomitting to the point of total exhaustion, the swim did not even start...in fact two days later we are still suffering with the after effects on our stomach muscles.
    Part of the problem may well have been due to it being dark and unable to focus on the horizon. Three of us applied the scopoderm patches at least two hours before the journey and I had been taking other medication each night in the week leading up to the event.
    The other bad thing is I DONT LIKE GINGER at all
    any further thoughts are welcome
    next time I might actually get into the water
    mark
  • NiekNiek Member
    edited August 2012
    I do not get seasick but still love my ginger cookies. :-)

    @mpfmark The other bad thing is I DONT LIKE GINGER at all

    You might try ginger pills. Wash them away with gingerale whatever you like. ;-)
    ginger pills
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • I see that less-drowsy dramamine (meclazine) had not been mentioned yet. I have used this on several occasions (like yesterday) and it seems to have a decent success rate for suppressing motion-sickness.
    It is an antihistamine so there is the bonus side-effect of supressing reaction to jellyfish stings. (also like yesterday). I still have a reaction but not as bad.
  • JenAJenA Member
    edited August 2012
    For what it's worth, Diana Nyad claims we can't be allergic to jellyfish.

    "I've learned that we human beings can't be allergic to jellyfish because they are creatures of genetic background that is 600 million years old and our immune systems didn't develop until much more recently."

    The Cuba Swim: A Life Story
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-nyad/the-cuba-swim-a-life-story_b_1799980.html
  • One of our support crew used Ginger and other herbal remedies before our Triple English Channel Attempt in 2011 and was still horribly sick for 90% of the journey! That saying our support boat sways a lot because

    A little off-topic... but I agree with JenA. 3 years ago I was researching what I had been told may have been an allergic reaction to Blue Bottle Jelly Fish - Rottnest Channel Individual Swim (non-race day) 2009 (difficulty breathing, diarrhea, swollen face and body). A researcher at James Cook University, Australia (The University conducts nationally significant and internationally recognised research in areas such as marine sciences, biodiversity, tropical ecology etc...) informed me that you cannot be allergic to jelly fish stings. Yes, you can have terrible reactions from some, be killed by others but it is not from an "allergy" as such.
  • My comments was cut out: "That saying, our support boat sways a lot because it is a fishing trawler and not designed to travel at the slow speed which swimmers swim :)"
  • @chloemccardeldotcom @mpfmark Some of the EC boats are more stable than others. Pace Arrow is extremely stable because it's so low & (was a fishing boat afaik but not the traditional boat design of the CSA boats).

    @mpfmark, I often remark that I spent 12 hours less than 500 metres from your pilot boat while crewing a crossing. Pace Arrow was perfectly stable in less than Force Three winds while the one you were on last week was rolling all over the place in the same conditions. It's high-sided and heavy steel and catches the wind easily.

    But a few of you know I am fixated on boat stability, even from the swimmer's point of view, and why I am fixated.

    As far as I've read, adrenaline epipens, often carried by people with bee-sting or nut allergies, are useless for jellyfish stings. Though I think @JenA and @chloemaccardeldotcom may have been on opposite sides of a sarcasm divide there! :D
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    I'm afraid I have nothing positive to contribute re: the sea sickness dilemma. All I can offer is my enduring memory of my one and only channel relay swim...
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