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Illness

Seasickness

Page last updated on 28 February 2019

Seasickness (also known as motion sickness) is your body’s response to certain types of movement, causing the sufferer to feel dizzy, nauseous, vomit and generally feel unwell – among other symptoms. It can occur in nearly every person, but some people appear to be more sensitive than others.

Key disease information

What is seasickness?

Seasickness is the body’s response to certain types of movement. It is thought that there is a mismatch between what the brain is told by your balance system in your inner ear, and what your eyes are seeing. For example, on a boat your eyes may be telling your brain you are still, but your ears sense that there is a rocking motion and sends that information to the brain as well. The result is a raft of symptoms that are generally not serious, although frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration and low blood pressure.

How is seasickness spread?

Seasickness is not really considered a disease, and it is not something you catch. However, there are certain people who are more prone to seasickness than others, including women more so than men, children more so than adults and if you have had motion sickness in the past you may have worse symptoms in the future by expecting to experience seasickness.

Is seasickness contagious?

No, seasickness is not contagious.

What are the symptoms of seasickness?

The symptoms of seasickness can be mild to serious:

  • Dizziness
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Tiredness
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Burping
  • Sweating
How can seasickness be prevented?

There are some tips to avoiding seasickness you might like to try:

  • Try look at a stationary object (e.g. feature on land).
  • Position yourself where you will experience the least motion (e.g. centre of a ship).
  • Try closing your eyes to reduce the sensory confusion.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Get plenty of fresh air. 
  • Use relaxation techniques to stay calm and relaxed.

There are also medications available to prevention of seasickness. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor before you travel.

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Sources & Citations

  1. Victoria State Government. Better Health Channel. Motion sickness. Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/motion-sickness (accessed 25 October 2018).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.10.0393 - Date of preparation October 2018