Domestic Encyclopædia (1802)/Sea-sickness

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SEA-SICKNESS, a convulsive affection of the stomach, attended with great nausea and vomiting: it is occasioned by the irregular motion of the vessel.

The sea-sickness, generally attacks persons unaccustomed to voyages on the ocean, particularly if they embark in a small vessel, which is not deeply laden. On the other hand, passengers in very large ships are less violently affected; as the waves make only a slight impression on the latter. People advanced in years, and also children (especially if they be of a dark complexion) are less liable to this complaint than those who are in the prime of life, and possess a fair skin. Its duration is very unequal; in general, only for one or two days; though it sometimes continues for weeks, or months, and even during the whole voyage: in which latter case, it induces head-ach; fever; intense thirst; a quick pulse; and a total inability to retain either solid or liquid food on the stomach;—affections, that are always very difficult to remove.

But, though sea-sickness be thus irksome and distressing to the patient during its continuance, it has often proved highly beneficial in numerous diseases, particularly in asthmatic and pulmonary cases: very few instances, indeed, have occurred, in which fatal consequences have resulted from this temporary complaint.

Among the numerous remedies devised, with a view to alleviate this debilitating indisposition, one or two draughts of sea-water have been found very serviceable; for, though extremely disgusting, that fluid will clear the first passages, if they be foul or oppressed, and thus afford effectual relief, when the nausea and sickness which it necessarily occasions, have abated. The frequent application of æther to the temples and nostrils, together with a tea-spoonful of that liquor, diluted in a glass of water, and occasionally taken, has likewise been attended with good effects.

In order to mitigate, and if possible, to prevent the violence of that complaint, it has farther been recommended, never to embark, immediately after meals; and, when on ship-board, to partake very moderately of food, which ought to consist of bread and fresh meat (at least as long as this article can be procured), to be eaten in a cold state, with the addition of mustard, or pepper. The drink should, likewise, be sparingly, but frequently taken, and ought to consist of lemonade, tart wines mixed with Seltzer water, and fermented with pounded sugar; or other liquors containing a large portion of fixed air.

Passengers at sea should wear flannel shirts and drawers, together with trowsers and other warm clothing; because these simple expedients have frequently prevented sickness, vomiting, and the numerous symptoms accompanying such convulsive efforts. They ought likewise to swallow, occasionally, a few drops of the spirit of vitriolic æther, commonly called the dulcified spirit of vitriol, either on lump sugar, or mixed with peppermint-water; and, if they be troubled with a slight diarrhœa, it will be proper to administer a few grains of rhubarb; or (which is preferable, if it can be effected) a clyster, consisting of Venice soap, dissolved in salt-water. Farther, they should, as long as possible, remain on deck, even duriug rainy and stormy weather; because the breeze arising from the sea, is far more salubrious than the confined and stagnant air of the cabin. No passengers, however, ought to watch the motion of the waves, particularly when the element is violently agitated by tempests; nor should they indulge in sloth or inactivity, but take proper and frequent exercise, such as working at the pump, &c. for indolence only tends to aggravate the disorder.—Lastly, whatever may disturb or enervate the mind, such as reading, intense study, or meditation on gloomy subjects, must be purposely avoided, and no opportunity neglected, of participating in innocent mirth, and mental relaxation.