Motion Sickness

When I first started diving, I experienced quite a bit of motion sickness. It would never be a problem before a dive, but it would be a real problem upon surfacing. I would feel nauseaus at the surface and on the boat, and the feeling would slowly fade once back on land.

I learned a few tricks to minimize motion sickness. Medication probably helped the most, but I also ate better and drank more water. I also chugged a special soda immediately before diving; the soda contains an acid that counters motion sickness.

Over time, I noticed that my motion sickness decreased. I would dive unprepared, which is to say I hadn’t taken the medication or drank the soda, but I would feel relatively well after the dive.

I still take all precautions before a dive, just in case. However, it seems that the body adapts and naturally becomes less susceptible to motion sickness over time.

Seasickness Medicine

I seem to get seasick fairly easily. I am usually fine getting into the ocean from a pier or getting out to a dive spot by boat. Well, I start feeling it, but is not yet too bad before the dive starts.

After a dive I usually have some degree of seasickness, mostly moderate-to-severe. I usually recover fairly quickly once on land.

The worst part is immediately upon surfacing. I am relatively OK at the safety stop and above, but by the time I inflate my BCD at the surface I am already nauseous. Getting onto the boat doesn’t help, since it is usually rocking pretty good.

So I asked at a pharmacy if they had anything for motion sickness, and they gave me Meclizine Bonamic 25mg. I have used it a few times now, and it really seems to help.

I also drink a can of Coca-Cola, which I blogged about here:

Also, thanks to a YouTube video by Lake Hickory Scuba, I leave my gear on and board the boat quickly.

So Meclizine Bonamic 25mg + Coca-Cola + keeping my gear on = much less nausea. If anyone else suffers, I hope this helps.

Disclaimer: consult a doctor before self-medicating.

Motion Sickness

In researching motion sickness, I read online that drinking Coca-Cola supposedly helps. There is a specific acid in it that provides the relief.

I have tried it twice now. I drank a can of Coke shortly before one dive, and I drank a can shortly after another. The reason I drank one after, not before, is simple: I forgot.

Anyway, the first test was a boat dive. Sure enough, I had a little bit of motion sickness after the dive, but it was noticeably milder than after other boat dives.

The second test was after a shore dive, but the current was vigorous. I felt moderately motion sick after that one, and drinking Coke seemed to accelerate my recovery from it.

So, does this count as scientific testing? Absolutely not.  

Is it worth continuing to drink a can of Coke before every dive? Yes. Even if it is only a placebo, I’ll take it!

7 Deadly Sins

I recently blogged ( that my first fun dive (non-training dive) sent me to a hospital. Since I never want to feel that awful again, I have been carefully reviewing everything that happened that day.

Here are the symptoms, in order of appearance:

  1. Mental dullness

  2. Vertigo

  3. Nosebleeding

  4. Diarrhea

  5. Vomiting

  6. Difficulty breathing

  7. Chills

Here are the 7 deadly scuba diving sins that I will never commit again:

  1. DIVING IMPAIRED. After my morning dive, I took my Open Water Diver certification test. I scored an 82, which is passing. However, it is well below my personal standards. I could feel that I wasn’t thinking clearly. At the time, I dismissed this as being no different than trying to take a test after running a few kilometers or working out at a gym. Is that the case? I don’t know.

  2. EMPTY STOMACH. I skipped lunch. I never feel hungry while diving or even after diving. And, there was no time to take a test and eat lunch and still get onto the afternoon boat. But, when I started vomiting after my fun dive, very little came up. My stomach was almost completely empty, and that couldn’t have been good. Plus, I couldn’t keep food down for maybe 10-12 hours after.

  3. DEHYDRATION. I am in the Philippines, physically exerting myself on land, and I drank very little that day. I remember having a small coffee, a drinking yogurt, and less than 1 liter of water the entire day. In comparison, I normally drink 3 liters just while sitting at a desk during a typical workday. I wasn’t able to keep water in my stomach until I got to the ER in the evening.

  4. NO WETSUIT. I am more comfortable diving without a wetsuit. However, since I felt freezing cold for about 24 hours after my fun dive, I am going to assume that I lost a little too much body heat.

  5. HYPERVENTILATION. I swam in the strongest current that I have ever been in. I followed my dive buddy’s direction, but at a much higher depth. I quickly exhausted myself. I now know that I needed to have descended quicker. When we switched from trying to see the cave entrance against the current to drifting along the wall with the current, I tried to slow my breathing but could not. If there is a way to do that with a demand regulator, I don’t know it. I don’t know how long this dive was, but I must’ve been hyperventilating for at least 30-35 minutes. In the hours after surfacing, I needed to be administered oxygen twice.

  6. MOTION SICKNESS. After boat diving, I always have some degree of motion sickness. Sometimes it is worse than at other times, but the effects wear off either on the boat or within a few hours. The effects start either immediately when I surface, in stronger currents, or when I touch the boat’s ladder. So, I surely had my regular motion sickness on top of everything else I did wrong. I am going to start trying to take medicine for this.

  7. MILITARY MINDSET. I have heard on YouTube and read online that you should not dive if you are not feeling well, or end a dive if you are not feeling well. In the Army, however, we train to never quit. In my mind, I can finish the dive and I’ll be fine. Besides, there were children in the larger group. How am I going to quit while children are making the dive look easy? In the Army, the only reasons to stop are vomiting and passing out. If you are not up to the physical challenge, everyone will at least respect that you gave 100%. Quitting, however, is not an option. So, I met the Army standard of vomiting, but this seems to be a very bad idea when diving.

I had two other inexplicable symptoms. Soon after boarding the boat, my dive buddy noticed that I was bleeding from my nose. To my recollection, I have previously nosebled only in very dry air. Also, I had diarrhea. I was able to use the toilet on the boat and at the dive center, and I must’ve gone at least 3-4 times in total. I don’t remember if I also used the Emergency Room toilet. Anyway, I do not know at this point what caused either of these two symptoms.

One additional problem, that I am not counting as a Deadly Sin because it was involuntary, was a communication problem. I had so much difficulty with breathing, vertigo, and chills, that I mostly just sat still while wrapped in a towel. I was waiting for the symptoms to pass, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to take so long. While waiting, I could not and did not effectively communicate everything that went wrong nor all the symptoms I was experiencing. That may or may not have affected my treatment on the boat, at the dive center, and even at the ER.

Anyway, I learned a lot from this experience. I hope I can help readers of this blog avoid feeling what I felt. It took me about 4 days to fully recover.

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