How to Avoid Seasickness – And the Need for International Medical Transport

People take cruises to unwind and let the ship’s staff take care of all their needs. However, a bout of seasickness can quickly ruin what should be a relaxing vacation. And in very rare cases, severe seasickness and its associated symptoms can aggravate underlying medical conditions.

Seasickness, or motion sickness, is thought to be caused when the eyes, inner ears or sensory nerves recognize that the body is moving but other senses don’t. Motion sickness can be caused by the movement of a car, turbulence on a plane flight, or the movement of waves against a ship. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating and headaches. And unlike car trips or flights that are usually over in hours, travelers on cruise ships may spend days or even weeks fighting seasickness.

Of course, it’s better to prevent seasickness than to treat it after its symptoms start. For some people, getting a full night’s sleep and staying well-hydrated in the weeks leading up to a cruise can help ward of seasickness. In general, in the days before boarding a cruise ship it’s wise to avoid acidic foods, greasy foods and caffeine, which can irritate the stomach. In addition, doctors recommend that travelers avoid alcohol the night before departure, as it can leave them feeling rundown and dehydrated before they head out to sea.

Here are other things travelers can do to try to prevent themselves from becoming seasick:

  • Book the biggest cabin, within budget. They usually have smaller and fewer windows, which is important to note because visual acclimation helps prevent seasickness. Also, travelers who know they are prone to motion sicknesses should choose a cabin close to the middle and on the outside of the ship, where they will feel a ship’s rocking motion less.
  • Spend time on deck. Look out at sea and use the horizon as a focal point for visual orientation to maintain an equilibrium. Breathing in fresh air can also lessen the symptoms of seasickness.
  • Take anti-nausea medicine. Both prescription patches and over-the-counter medicines can help counter the effects of seasickness. A common side effect of some of these medicines is sleepiness, which may be a concern for people who have difficulty with balance anyway.
  • Consider a natural remedy. Ginger in the form or candy, tea or pills can calm an upset stomach and help treat nausea. Other travelers find green apples, crackers, olives (which reduce saliva) and lemon to be effective.

When Medical Transport is Necessary

Motion sickness typically, but not always, can be self-treated and will resolve after a few days. However, the nausea and vomiting that comes with it can put people with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions at risk for dehydration. Motion sickness also is accompanied by dizziness, increasing the likeliness of an accidental fall or injury.

A serious illness or injury on a cruise ship may require a traveler to receive immediate international medical transport. In most cases, cruise ships do not have the staff or equipment necessary to treat travelers who are experiencing acute medical problems.

SentinelMED provides long-distance domestic and international medical transport, as well as medical repatriation and medical escort services. The SentinelMED team can work closely with the crew to coordinate care for patients from a medical facility at the nearest port to a health care facility closer to a traveler’s home, or to the home of a family member.

In many cases, our trained medical escorts travel with patients on commercial airlines to help ensure their safety and comfort. This service can be a cost-effective alternative to air ambulance services.

The SentinelMED team understands the complexity of delivering exceptional care to patients who need assistance during travel. Please contact us to learn more about the services that SentinelMED offers or its staff.

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