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By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Most children have to a lesser or greater degree experienced seasickness. The cause of seasickness is that the child is exposed to movements the brain is not used to. The brain has not learned to set the movements of the body against what the child sees. The balance centre in the brain must first get to know the new movements. Until it does, the brain sends out signals which lead to seasickness. When the brain has gotten to know the movements, the seasickness will wear off. This is why the discomforts from seasickness diminish, as the child grows older. And for this reason most children can be “cured” from seasickness.

There is a big difference of experiences between individual people. Some people easily get seasick while others never experience it. No one knows why it is so.

The typical symptom of seasickness is vomiting. The smallest children do not know what nausea is and instead complains about ‘stomach pains’. With bigger children and adults, seasickness begins with sleepiness and headaches. The face becomes pale and then begin the nausea and vomiting. After vomiting you get a little better but only for a short while until the vomiting starts again. The symptoms of seasickness can last for several hours after you have reached harbour.

Seasickness with prolonged vomiting leads to dehydration. The first signs of dehydration are headache, drowsiness and dizziness. Later, difficulties with swallowing, blurry vision, muscle cramps, mumbling speech, grogginess and in the end unconsciousness.

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There are two types of medication for seasickness. Antihistamines exist as tablets or a mixture and can be bought over the counter. Scopolamine exists as a band-aid to be placed behind the ear. You need a prescription to get this band-aid. It is important to be clear about how long the travel lasts because there is a difference in how long the medication works. If you are going sailing for several days Scopolamine, which lasts for three days, is recommended. However, the band-aid can only be recommended for children of more than ten years old. Antihistamines should be used for smaller children or shorter travels. All the remedies available are mildly sedative. It is important to administer the medication to the child well in advance before the travel.

What can you do?

If you get easily seasick you can:

  • Stay outside
  • Look at the horizon
  • Avoid reading
  • Avoid eating
  • Attempt to drink
  • Make sure you get fresh air
  • Try to sleep or stay occupied
  • Dress properly

If the vomiting continues for hours and the person with seasickness complains about headache, drowsiness or dizziness you should seek harbour.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If you know you usually get seasick and are going on a longer trip. Your doctor can possibly make a prescription for a scopolamine band-aid.

Contact the doctor immediately

If the person with seasickness is light-headed, mumbles or is in and out of consciousness.