Whale Watching: Tips to Prevent Sea Sickness

San Diego is lucky enough to experience spectacular views of Pacific gray whales from approximately December through April every year, as these majestic mammals make their annual migration to Mexico. They travel from the frigid Bering Sea in Alaska to the warm waters of Baja. The whales make this 10,000 mile trek in order to give birth to their calves in the isolated lagoons of Baja’s Sea of Cortez. Fortunately for us, they often come within ½ mile of the shore and are a common site as a flurry of boats head out to sea to witness their journey.

If you are like the many San Diegans that suffer from sea sickness, an exciting whale watching boat trip can quickly turn miserable as your stomach climbs into your throat and nausea overwhelms you. It is disappointing to have to miss out on this opportunity to see the whales up close.

Sea sickness is a reaction to motion, where your eyes tell your brain there is no movement, while your inner ear insists there is. The result is nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches and cold sweats. This is usually compounded by the fact that you are trapped on a boat and are unable to relieve the discomfort until you get back to shore

Don’t miss out on the incredible passage of the Pacific Gray Whales through San Diego! Try these tips to manage sea sickness.

Easy Tips to Prevent Sea Sickness:

1. Get plenty of sleep the night before your whale watching voyage.

Being tired makes you more susceptible to the causes of sea sickness. Also, many nausea medications cause drowsiness, which can be magnified if you are already tired.

2. Take medication for nausea.

Talk to your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups doctor for a recommendation that meets your specific needs. There are a variety of antiemetic (anti-nausea) drugs available over the counter such as Bonine and Dramamine. There are also prescription drugs that work by counteracting the effect of chemicals released by the brain during seasickness. Your doctor can tell you which is the best choice for you and when it should be taken during the trip.

3. Eat before and during the boat trip—if you can.

Prime your stomach with bland food such as crackers, bread, and pretzels. While you want to be careful not to overeat, having something in your stomach will help manage the acid caused from the nausea. Sip on water to stay hydrated, but drink slowly to avoid it sloshing around in your stomach. Also avoid spicy, greasy, or acidic foods the day before your trip so that your stomach isn’t already irritated, making it less able to combat the nausea. Eating peppermints or sipping on peppermint tea can also be effective in calming your stomach.

4. Stay near the middle of the ship.

The motion of the ship is decreased in the middle of the boat, which means less swaying and rocking to make you sick. The front of the boat will have the most sea sickness-inducing movement.

5. Stay on the open deck and focus on the horizon.

Fresh air and the ability to focus on the horizon can help with the nausea. The fresh air will relieve hot flashes and cold sweats. Looking at the horizon helps your eyes see the motion of the boat, so that it can report this information to your brain, and get in alignment with what your inner ear is feeling.

Although sea sickness can’t always be entirely avoided for some people, these tips can help to minimize the effects. Give it a try and capture incredible views of the spectacular Pacific gray whales as they swim past the shores of San Diego!

The team of doctors at Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups is here to help San Diegans make the most of the San Diego lifestyle. Schedule an appointment today with our highly rated doctors to discuss specific concerns about your sea sickness prevention needs.

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