The French have a nice-sounding name for it—mal de mer. Our name is less fancy—seasick. Whatever you call it, being seasick is one of the most awful experiences you can have. You won’t die from it—but a lot of people feel so sick they wish they could die!
If you are one of those lucky people who doesn’t get seasick, have a little sympathy for those who do. What do they feel? Well, firstly, you feel sick in your stomach—and quite often you are sick! You feel dizzy, and as if your arms and legs don’t belong to you. Your head feels funny, too, as if there is a steel band right around it—and someone is slowly but steadily tightening that band! Sweat just pours off you and you ache all over. It is not nice!
What causes seasickness? Most people believe it is caused by their stomach, so they try not to eat or even think about food. You’ve probably heard some of the cures involving food—drink lots of water, eat dry bread, don’t eat anything fatty, and so on. In truth, none of these will help.
The reason is that an upset stomach is only a symptom of seasickness. Because seasickness is caused, believe it or not, by your ears.
The constant movement of a boat upsets the part of your ears that looks after your balance. What happens then is the sort of sick feeling you get if your spin on the spot for too long—noly worse! (You can also get a similar movement in cars and planes — which is why seasickness is sometimes called ‘motion sickness’.)
What can you do? Well, keeping your head up may help. Lying down may help—but be warned, it may make it much worse! Looking at an object that is not moving, such as the coastline, may help too. There are also medicines you can buy to take before you go on the water. One new idea is a small patch that you stick behind your ear. It slowly releases seasickness medicine into your bloodstream and works for a couple of days.
But for most of us—well, we’ll just have to learn to live with seasickness. Or stay on someting that doen’t move beneath us!