Coping with Motion Sickness

Whether you’re traveling on a boat to watch for whales or on a plane during some particularly bad weather, if you’re someone who suffers from motion sickness, you know how miserable the trip can become.  It is possible for people, who suffer from motion sickness, to still enjoy activities that have a lot of motion.

Unfortunately, my body doesn’t take kindly to extreme motion.  Riding a roller coaster isn’t a problem for me because the motion is over a very short period of time.  Any motion over a longer period of time can be a problem.  For someone who loves to travel, including trips on the ocean and by air, being susceptible to motion sickness is not acceptable.  Over the years, I’ve come up with a recipe that works for me, allowing me to enjoy all of these travel activities without any discomfort.

I’ve been on a lot of ocean cruises.  I can tell that I’m in good company when I see the number of passengers with a little circular patch behind one ear.  The Scopolamine patch was a remedy I tried in the early 1990’s.  Initially, it seemed to work well. However, I didn’t like the fact that the patch would cause irritation to my skin.  I also found that, after using the patch for a 7-day cruise,  my vision was affected in not so pleasant ways.  So, the patch was not the answer for me.

Two medications that do work for me are dimenhydrinate and meclizine. Dimenhydrinate is the active ingredient in Dramamine and meclizine is the active ingredient in Dramamine II and Bonine.

Dimenhydrinate usually comes in 50 mg tablets that are taken 1 every 8 hours.  This medication works well, but it has one negative side-effect, it makes you drowsy.  I decided to experiment with lesser doses to see how little I could use and still get relief.  By cutting the tablets in half (25 mg), I found that I could take a half-tablet every 4 hours, I didn’t get drowsy, and I didn’t suffer any problem with motion sickness.  This is perfect for short boat trips and for most airline trips.  I also found that taking a quarter-tablet (12.5 mg) every 2 hours also provided relief as long as the motion wasn’t severe.

Meclizine is usually found in 25 mg tablets (sometimes chewable) that are taken 1 or 2 every 24 hours.  This medication also works well and it is better suited for long trips, such as ocean voyages.  When I first tried this medication at full-strength, I found that it made me feel weird after about 12 hours.  There was no motion sickness, but I had difficulty concentrating.  So, I experimented again with a lower dose.  Taking half a tablet (12.5 mg) every 12 hours was the right amount for me.

My wife and I took a New England cruise a couple of years ago.  We started in Quebec City, traveled up the Saint Laurence River and down the east coast to Boston.  On the night we entered the Atlantic Ocean and were traveling off the coast of Nova Scotia, it was quite stormy.  The wind was blowing at over 80 MPH.  I didn’t sleep well that night because each time I’d start to fall asleep, a big wave would hit the ship making a loud bang and I’d be awake again.  As rough as it was, I never had a problem with motion sickness.

If you suffer from motion sickness and haven’t found your magic formula for relief, you might try mine.  Bon voyage!

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