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Why You Get Seasick

Common Symptoms of Seasickness
Common Symptoms of Seasickness

Why You Get Seasick: Understanding the Science Behind Motion Sickness

Have you ever embarked on a thrilling sea voyage, only to find yourself feeling queasy and nauseous shortly after setting sail? If so, you’re not alone. Many individuals experience seasickness, and it can turn a potentially enjoyable adventure into an uncomfortable ordeal. In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of seasickness, exploring why it occurs, its symptoms, and most importantly, how to prevent and alleviate it. So, fasten your seatbelts (or life jackets), and let’s set sail into the science of seasickness.

What Is Seasickness?

Seasickness, also known as motion sickness, is a condition that occurs when your inner ear, eyes, and body’s sensory receptors send conflicting signals to your brain. It’s not exclusive to the sea; motion sickness can also happen during car rides, flights, or amusement park rides. However, we’ll focus on seasickness for now.

The Inner Ear Dilemma

One of the primary causes of seasickness is the inner ear’s role in maintaining balance. When you’re on a moving boat, your inner ear detects motion as it senses the rocking of the vessel. However, your eyes may be fixed on a stationary object like the horizon, creating a sensory mismatch. This contradiction confuses your brain, leading to the onset of nausea and other symptoms.

The Brain’s Response

Your brain, ever vigilant for potential dangers, interprets this sensory incongruity as a potential threat. To protect your body, it triggers a cascade of responses that result in seasickness. These responses include increased salivation, sweating, and an upset stomach.

Why You Get Seasick: Understanding the Science Behind Motion Sickness
Why You Get Seasick: Understanding the Science Behind Motion Sickness


Common Symptoms of Seasickness

1. Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea is the hallmark symptom of seasickness. It often precedes vomiting, which is the body’s way of expelling potential toxins. This can be highly unpleasant, especially when you’re far from shore.

2. Dizziness and Vertigo

Seasickness can also cause dizziness and a spinning sensation known as vertigo. These sensations can make even simple tasks like walking a daunting challenge.

3. Fatigue

The body’s constant struggle to adapt to the conflicting signals can leave you feeling exhausted, even after a short time at sea.

Who Is Prone to Seasickness?

While anyone can experience seasickness, some individuals are more susceptible than others. Factors that increase the risk of seasickness include:

1. Lack of Exposure

People who are not accustomed to being on boats or ships are more likely to experience seasickness. Over time, many individuals can build up a tolerance to the motion.

2. Genetics

There may be a genetic component to seasickness, as it tends to run in families. If your parents or siblings get seasick easily, you might too.

3. Rough Sea Conditions

Rough seas with high waves and turbulent waters can exacerbate seasickness, even for seasoned sailors.

Preventing and Managing Seasickness

1. Medications

Several over-the-counter and prescription medications can help alleviate seasickness. These include antihistamines and scopolamine patches. Consult with a healthcare professional before using any medication.

2. Natural Remedies

Ginger has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and can be consumed in various forms, such as ginger candy or tea.

3. Acupressure Bands

Wristbands that apply pressure to specific acupressure points have been known to provide relief from seasickness.

4. Choose the Right Location

If you’re prone to seasickness, opt for a cabin near the ship’s centerline or lower deck, as these areas experience less motion.

Common Symptoms of Seasickness
Common Symptoms of Seasickness


Seasickness can put a damper on what should be an exciting adventure at sea. However, with the right knowledge and precautions, you can minimize its impact and enjoy your maritime journey to the fullest.

Remember that prevention is key, but if seasickness does strike, there are effective remedies available to ease your discomfort. So, don’t let the fear of seasickness deter you from exploring the vast, beautiful oceans of our world.


1. Can children get seasick?

Yes, children can get seasick just like adults. In fact, they may be more susceptible due to their developing sensory systems.

2. Are there long-term effects of seasickness?

Seasickness itself is not known to cause long-term health issues. However, it can lead to complications like dehydration if vomiting is severe and not properly managed.

3. Can you build a tolerance to seasickness?

Yes, many people can build a tolerance to seasickness over time through repeated exposure to motion at sea.

4. Do natural remedies like ginger work for everyone?

While ginger has been effective for many in reducing nausea, its effectiveness can vary from person to person.

5. Are there any alternative therapies for seasickness?

Some people have found relief through techniques like hypnosis and biofeedback, but their effectiveness may vary, and more research is needed to confirm their benefits.

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