Overcoming seasickness while boating on the Great Lakes

Don’t let a queasy stomach ruin your day on a big lake. Here are some tips for dealing with seasickness to enjoy your time on the Great Lakes.

As the summer season begins, many people are taking to the Great Lakes by boat to enjoy fishing or cruising from port to port. When the water on the Great Lakes is calm, seasickness is far from everyone’s mind. However, most of the time, the water on the big lakes is rolling or choppy and that is when seasickness can set in. With that, Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension offer the following advice for Great Lakes boaters this season.

Many people affected by seasickness can adapt, over time, to the motion while on the water, as it is that rolling motion that makes people sick. When adaptation occurs, the brain can determine that the confused sensory signals are normal and the symptoms of seasickness slowly disappear. To help relieve the symptoms of motion sickness, it is best to move around on the boat to become accustomed to the motion, while at the same time focusing on the horizon.

A mistake many people make in trying to reduce the effects of being seasick is to lie down. This actually further promotes the feeling of being seasick as your body continues to feel the motion without any perception of the horizon. For example, rigging up fishing equipment is a task that requires close visual focus, but can also enhance seasickness. While doing this or any close-focused tasks on the boat, it is best to look up often to focus on the horizon.

If you experience seasickness, there are medications that can help in treating the symptoms. For many people, the over-the-counter products often provide relief. Recommendations for these non-prescription products can often be obtained by speaking to your pharmacist or healthcare provide. They are effective, but as a side effect, they can cause drowsiness in some people. If you find that these non-prescription drugs do not resolve your problem with seasickness, consult with your healthcare provider for another form of treatment. Lastly, if you plan to go boating and want to use any medication to stave off becoming seasick, follow the product directions as many motion sickness medications must be taken at least 1 to 2 hours before you get onto the water.

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