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Diving Medicine Online
Comprehensive information about diving and undersea medicine for the non-medical diver, the non-diving physician and the specialist. 
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All in your mind?

There are those who will tell you that sea sickness is really a state of the mind - when you and I "know" that isn't true! Actually, the Israeli navy has done studies that show that suggestion plays an important part in producing sea sickness. They also have shown in very good studies that the best drug for mal de mer is scopolamine, recently placed back on the market by the FDA in transdermal form. Scopolamine has many side effects, is difficult to regulate with each individual and may be dangerous to the diver with glaucoma or prostate trouble.

They found that the next best drug was cinnarizine (Stugeron in the U.K.), less effective but with many fewer side-effects. Stugeron is not available in the U.S.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness is a disturbance in the vestibular (balance system of the inner ear) system as it relates to the visual and proprioception (position sense in space) systems of the brain. Some people only get sick when their eyes are focused on close work, such as donning gear, or when working on navigation in an enclosed compartment. Some people associate diesel fumes with being sick, most likely a psychological stimulus.

The best medications have been found to be "Meclizine", "Bonine", Dramamine and Scopolamine, in the form of the TransDerm patch or in tablet form. 

SCOPACE (tablets) contains scopolamine hydrobromide, "the single most effective" medicine in preventing nausea and vomiting induced by motion.(1) The typical prescribed dose is 1-2 tablets taken an hour before travel. Each dose comforts up to eight hours. 

Comparing SCOPACE tablets to the scopolamine patch in non-divers, please note the following important differences noted in the web site at

1. Dosing Flexibility
2. Greater Efficacy
3. Lower Incidence of Side Effects
4. Faster Onset of Action
5. Shorter Duration of Action
6. Cost Effective


   1. AHFS Drug Information 1996. American Hospital Formulary Service
   2. Wood, M.J. et al Comparison of Dosage Routes for Antimotion Sickness Drugs. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. May 1987; 504.
   3. Doweck, I. et al. Rate of Absorption of Scopolamine After Application of Scopoderm-TTS. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. May 1994; A24.
   4. Advertisement. CIBA Pharmaceuticals.
   5. Parrott, A.C. The Effects of Transdermal Scopolamine and Four Dose Levels of Oral Scopolamine (0.15, 0.3, 0.6, and 1.2 mg) Upon Psychological Performance. Psychopharmacology. 1986. 89: 3; 347-354.
   6. Dobie, T.G. and May, J.G. Cognitive-Behavioral Management of Motion Sickness. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. October 1994; C1-C20.
   7. 1998 Redbook. Medical Economics Company. Oradell, New Jersey.
   8. Graybiel, A. et. al. Prevention of Experimental Motion Sickness by Scopolamine Absorbed through the Skin. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine. 1976; 47: 1096.


This is a liquid placed in front of the earlobes. See web site at .

Wrist bands?

Relief Band Device
Woodside Biomedical 
The ReliefBand® NST(TM) device is indicated for use in the treatment of nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, motion sickness and pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration has approved its electronic ReliefBand for postoperative nausea. 

It is the first such commercially available device to receive FDA clearance, the Carlsbad, California-based company said in a news release. 

According to Woodside, the ReliefBand uses electronic signals to stimulate nerves in the wrist. It is believed that those signals stimulate natural nerve impulses in the body, causing them to interfere with nausea messages en route to the stomach, the company explained. 

Woodside Biomedical, Inc., is a privately owned, venture-financed company.


Ginger in its various forms can also help--when taken 12-24 hours in advance.

Stomach bolus?

Oatmeal, bagels, crusty bread or any food that forms a bolus in the stomach can be helpful.

My best treatment is keep your eyes on the horizon, stay on deck and keep yourself well hydrated with non-alcoholic beverages. There is some evidence that the use of an artificial horizon in glasses might be beneficial. Try antacid tablets or lemon drops and if diving , try to be the first diver in from a heaving boat. Emmetrol may be effective.

Diving Medicine Online' does not endorse any of the medications, products or treatments described, mentioned or discussed in any of the services, databases or pages accessible within or from 'Diving Medicine Online', and  makes no representations concerning the efficacy, appropriateness or suitability of any such products or treatments.

You are encouraged to consult other sources and confirm the information contained in any of the services, databases or pages accessible within or from 'Diving Medicine Online'. If erroneous or otherwise inaccurate information is brought to our attention, a reasonable effort will be made to correct or delete it.  Such problems should immediately be reported to

The contents of this site are copyright © 1996-2016
 Ernest Campbell, MD, FACS All Rights Reserved.


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