Dr. Dan Zak Shares Sea Sickness Prevention & Treatment Tips

April 24, 2014

Even the hardiest adventure travelers can experience sea sickness, as the waters we find ourselves in can be challenging for the strongest stomachs. The Drake Passage is well known amongst Antarctic travelers as a nausea-inducing hot spot, although any open water can get your insides rolling.

In the Arctic, as we cross the Davis Strait between Monumental Island and Ilulissat, those prone to motion sickness will need to keep an eye on their comfort level. Our ships are equipped with stabilizers, to help fend off the effects of rough waters. The Ship Captain and your Quark Expedition Leader are also monitoring weather and water conditions constantly, to determine the best routes and ensure the safety of passengers. Still, as with other ailments, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to sea sickness!

As the on-board doctor, I have access to two types of anti-motion sickness medications on the ship: Phenergan (promethazine) and antivert (meclizine). Ideally, we’d like you to have consulted with your family physician before departure, to ensure there are no interactions with other medications you may be taking.

Drake Passage

If you are prone to motion sickness, it’s not a bad idea to take one of these medications as a preventative measure. Once vomiting kicks in, dehydration becomes a risk – and if we determine you are becoming dehydrated, a shot of anti-motion sickness medicine in the buttocks may be in order. We’ve found that most passengers do best with Phenergan.

Health and safety on board the ship are also key in preventing motion sickness. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the washroom, before every meal, and frequently throughout the day, to prevent contracting any illness. Keep a hand on the railing as you navigate the stairs on board, as they can be quite steep. Holding on can help keep you from falling, but also adds a sense of stability. If you have any questions about sea sickness prevention or treatment, one of our two onboard doctors will be happy to assist.

It never hurts to be prepared, though your Davis Strait crossing may very well be more like a “Drake Lake” crossing; it’s not uncommon for good weather to make these passage crossings smooth sailing. Regardless of the weather, once you catch your first glimpse of a majestic iceberg or the spectacular wildlife up close, you’ll know your participation in this rite of passage was worth it!

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