Imagine having unlimited access to gourmet food, an open bar, ocean views, fitness studios, live music and an outdoor pool -- and not being able to enjoy yourself because you suffer from motion sickness.
"When you're on a cruise, you're supposed to be having fun," says Joseph Furman, professor of otolaryngology and neurology at UPMC.
According to Dr. Furman, motion sickness occurs either when the brain receives inconsistent messages about the body's motion or when there's too much inner ear stimulation.
The internal system that allows humans to sense and maintain balance, the vestibular system, is responsible for organizing the information that the eyes and inner ear take in and sending it to the central nervous system. When the information that the eyes send contradicts the information that the inner ear sends, motion sickness occurs.
People can experience motion sickness while riding in a car, traveling in an airplane, riding on a roller coaster or boating, but don't even have to be moving to experience motion sickness.
"There are many different sensory stimuli that can provoke it," says Dr. Furman.
He notes that people can experience motion sickness if they are stationary and there are a lot of moving visual stimulants or sound fields around them. This is why someone can experience motion sickness while watching a movie in an IMAX theater or playing a virtual-reality video game.
Symptoms of motion sickness include paleness, cold sweats, drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Often, the best ways to remedy motion sickness are dealing with the symptoms and preventing motion sickness before it has an opportunity to occur.
Over-the-counter drugs: Antihistamines like Benadryl, Bonine, Dramamine and Marezine work by depressing the vomit center of the brain and treating the nausea. Side effects of these antihistamines include drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, loss of appetite, headache, blurred vision and irregular heartbeat.
Prescription drugs: Promethazine products like Phenergan, Prorex and Anergan 50 treat motion sickness by preventing nausea and vomiting. Side effects of these products include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, nightmares and blurred vision.
Another prescription solution is the scopolamine patch, which affects the nerve fibers in the inner ear. When the patch is applied to the area behind the ear, the drug passes through the skin and into the bloodstream. Possible side effects of the patch include drowsiness, disorientation, rash, confusion and hallucinations.
Ginger: In the form of tea, gum, mints or soda, ginger can treat motion sickness by treating the nausea that it brings on.
Sea-band: This wrist band works by exerting pressure on a specific acupressure point. This point has been proven to relieve nausea and vomiting.
Keep your eyes on the horizon: The captain of a boat is less likely to experience motion sickness because, as he is watching the ocean in front of him, his eyes are recognizing the motion of the boat. Although everyone can't steer a cruise ship, if people keep their eyes on the horizon and off books, movies and iPads, they can reduce the risk of experiencing motion sickness.
Dr. Furman recommends that people who suffer from motion sickness on cruises use non-medicinal remedies or drugs that don't cause drowsiness.
"If you're on a cruise and you're paying all that money, I think the last thing you'd want to do is knock yourself out."
Antoine Allen is a former Post-Gazette intern.