3 Tips on How to Prevent Nausea During & After Skydiving
Worried you’re going to get a “jiffy tummy” (in British parlance) or experience nausea after skydiving? You’re not alone. Worrying that you’re going to throw up on a skydive is one of the most common concerns we field every day. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest to clear up. With a little foreknowledge and preparation, it’ll be the last thing on your mind (in a distant last place after “eek!,” “whee!” and “I DID IT!”). Here’s what you need to know.
1. It doesn’t happen that often.
It’s a pretty rare occurrence that a tandem student will get sick on a skydive. It’s so uncommon, in fact, that we get the feeling the concern is the internet’s fault, no? Most people who ask the question have probably happened across internet footage of an unfortunate tandem student losing his/her breakfast to the landscape below. Those videos get a lot of clicks (schadenfreude, much?), but y’know what? Statistically speaking, you are probably not going to get sick on a tandem skydive…especially not if you prep right.
2. You’re gonna need to line the tummy–just not too much.
Eating sensibly is a good idea for life and skydiving alike. Before you jump, eat a moderately-sized, nutritious meal. If you don’t eat, your blood sugar will be low before and during your jump, which will be uncomfortable. (We stand against hangriness.) Chowing down is bad on the opposite count, as your blood flow will be leaving your brain behind at the distress call of your overburdened belly. If you’re too nervous to eat normally, drink your calories. Peanut-butter-chocolate-banana smoothie? PERFECT.
Pro tip: Bring healthy snacks to the dropzone, just in case there’s a wait.
3. Maybe you should do drugs.
NOT THAT KIND. We mean motion sickness medication, silly! If you already know you’ve got a history of experiencing motion sickness or random nausea, you probably already have this stuff in your bathroom cabinet, and you’d do well to make use of it here. Take the appropriate dose for you at the appropriate time before the jump, and you’ll have your “hurl insurance” sorted.
4. Hydration is key.
To keep your digestive system moving in the right direction when you make your jump, keep it properly hydrated. Dehydration is a sneaky day-ruiner that rears its ugly maw extra-meanly when it’s exposed to altitude–and it easily hides behind nervousness and excitement before it strikes. Dehydration is a sneaky reason for nausea after skydiving, so do yourself a favor and keep that monster at bay.
If your nausea is triggered by overstimulation, we have a simple, safe, natural and absolutely free solution: breathing. Let the wind remind you to invite air into your lungs in an even, regular pattern. A calm, breathing body isn’t a ralphing body. If you need inspiration, check out your instructor’s zen–we employ the best in the business, after all–and make the commitment to follow their lead and keep your breakfast where it belongs.
After a skydive with us, the only illness you’ll feel is homesickness for the sky.
Do People Pass Out, Pee Their Pants, Scream or Puke Skydiving?
Maybe you frame the risks of skydiving a little differently than the average bear. When most people are chewing their fingernails at the thought of physical injury (or worse), maybe you’ve checked out the safety statistics on skydiving and you’re way more worried about–well–some other stuff you’ve heard about. Maybe you don’t even bat an eye at the thought of dying on a skydive, but you’re not even close to okay with the idea of puking in front of your friends and family–or becoming the star of a viral video where a skydiving tandem student passes out in midair.
Y’know what? We get it. You should totally have the full information about what you’re getting into, from the standpoint of dignity as well as safety! Since we get these questions more often than you’d think, we’ve decided to break it all down for you here.
Do people pass out skydiving?
Well, yeah. The thing is that it’s very uncommon–and pretty much always preventable! People who pass out on a tandem skydive usually made one of the following mistakes:
- They didn’t eat a nutritious meal of moderate size before they made their jump
- They pushed forward with a planned skydive even though they were feeling unwell
- They drank too much night before and showed up with a hangover
- They didn’t breathe while they were in the plane and in the door for exit
These are all easy pitfalls to avoid, right? We think so. As a side note: The reason passing out on a skydive is so uncommon is that your brain wants to be firing on all cylinders for this.
Do people puke skydiving?
Yep. They sure do. Most folks who throw up on a tandem skydive do it on account of the same mistakes described above, but others were just handed a bad hand as far as a natural predisposition to motion sickness. If you already know that you tend to get motion-sick, do yourself a favor and pre-medicate yourself just as you do when you’re getting on a boat or a long, twisty car ride. You know the drill, right?
Do people pee their pants skydiving?
Most folks don’t come up with this one out of nowhere. If you already have problems with urinary incontinence, though, you might be concerned about what the cameras that will be trained on you during your landing might pick up.
This author (and those surveyed) has never seen this one in real life. Maybe someone made a little tiny piddle up there on opening, but nobody down here figured it out. The body’s natural reaction to fear, interestingly enough, is to hold it in!
Do people scream skydiving?
Hell yeah! It’s not just okay, it’s expected and accepted in this sport! There’s nothing particularly undignified about letting out a huge holler–or several–in the door, in the air and under your parachute. Screaming isn’t just an expression of excitement. It helps to fully relieve the anticipation you’ve been building up and to help you feel the joy–the rush–in every fiber of your being. There’s a reason so many elite airborne troops name themselves by some form of the moniker “The Screaming Eagles.”
Here’s some more of the science behind screaming, if you’re curious
If you’re worried about any of this stuff, rest assured that you’re not alone! Duck under the mistakes, challenge these fears and make a jump. We’re here to help you do it!
Does Your Stomach Drop When Skydiving? Aerial Motion Sickness Explained
First-time skydivers are always asking if it’s common to get motion sickness or nauseous mid-air. They worry they may need to use the onboard bathroom or even feel queasy mid-jump, so they seek ways to calm their nerves before taking the leap of faith.
In this post, we’re here to address the possible “sick” feelings you could have before the big jump or during the descent — explaining why some skydivers experience more bodily reactions than others and how you can avoid the pre-jump jitters and truly enjoy your freefall!
Skydiving Itself Doesn’t Cause Motion Sickness
That’s right: you read that correctly. The act of skydiving itself doesn’t usually cause motion sickness. Here’s why.
Many people automatically associate skydiving with that classic rollercoaster, stomach-dropping experience when, in fact, the two activities are very different. On a rollercoaster, you’re typically creeping slowly to the top of the “hill” before coming to almost a complete stop at the top and then plummeting down. In this way, you go from a slow speed to a fast jolt, near instantly. This shock-factor is what makes riding coasters a thrillseeker’s paradise, however, skydiving is not quite so “zero to nothing.”
From the moment you leave the ground, the airplane is in constant motion. By the time you ascend to the perfect jump height, the aircraft is moving close to 100 mph. When you jump, you’re freefalling at roughly 120 mph, so the speed shock isn’t nearly as stark. In this way, you don’t experience the same kind of stomach drop you might expect while plunging on a coaster. Between the rushing wind and the beautiful clouds and scenery around you, there are plenty of other things on your mind than your stomach mid-skydive.
It’s in the Airplane That People Have Symptoms — Not During the Freefall
The people who do experience stomach issues or feelings of motion sickness often do so in the aircraft on their way up to the jumping point. This stomach flipping or lightheadedness is often a combination of nerves for the big freefall, as well as a change in elevation.
The higher up the aircraft ascends, the more likely it is for the air pressure difference to cause your ears to pop and your equilibrium to feel “off.” As a result, sometimes first-time skydivers can experience a wave of nausea right before the plane adjusts to peak elevation. Give it a few minutes. Once the aircraft is “even” and flying at a constant speed, the sick stomach or wooziness should soon pass.
Tips for Avoiding Feeling Sick Skydiving
Still not feeling confident you can skydive without getting sick? Avoid nausea and panic attacks with this advice, straight from the skydiving pros:
1. Eat a normal portioned, healthy meal pre-jump.
Most first-time skydivers have those pre-jump jitters and butterflies in their stomach. As a result, they don’t feel hungry. They think, “I’ll eat after I skydive.” Unfortunately, not eating prior to the jump can make you feel lightheaded. Remember, food gives you the energy you’ll need to enjoy the skydiving experience without being “hangry.”
Don’t go to an all-you-can-eat buffet before a skydive; just eat a regular healthy meal without overstuffing. No greasy, fatty platters that would make anyone a little queasy. Even when you aren’t skydiving, that too-full, heavy feeling is no fun. Should you decide to eat a tad lighter than usual to play it safe, you can stop by our Flight Deck Bar & Grill for a bite after your freefall.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Some worry that they’ll have to go to the bathroom mid-flight and avoid liquids before skydiving. Hydrating before the jump, however, is very important. Like eating, this will help to keep that lightheaded feeling or acidic stomach at bay. Now, we don’t mean chugging a bottle of water right before the jump, which could get your tummy in twists and put unnecessary strain on your bladder. Instead, properly hydrate a few hours before the jump.
Rest assured that after the pre-jump training session, we always let our freefallers use the restroom before gearing up to board the plane. All-in-all, most skydiving experiences are no more than an hour from the time you gear up to when you are back on the ground, so we have confidence that you can hold it!
3. Absolutely no alcohol.
What’s the opposite of hydrating? Drinking alcoholic beverages. Many think that a strong shot or a few beers will calm them down prior to skydiving. Really, they often just end up causing an unsettled stomach or nausea on the plane or descent.
We advise avoiding alcohol for at least 8 hours prior to jumping and definitely avoiding coming to our skydiving center with a hangover. After a heavy night of drinking, your stomach and head are already under stress trying to recover; skydiving aside, it’s hard doing anything hungover.
4. Remember to breathe.
Oftentimes first-timers feel short of breath or lightheaded on the plane ride up because they are nervous and not breathing mindfully. They get themselves worked up and take shallow breaths.
When ascending to between 8,000-18,00 feet (depending on your jump height of choice), it’s important to realize your body is acclimating to the elevation difference. The higher up you go, the “thinner” the air will feel. Taking deep, focused breaths will help you slow down that racing heart rate and settle your nerves.
Prepare for Your Big Jump with CSC
Knowing how to diminish the feeling of motion sickness and stomach problems when skydiving is a great way to push past the nerves and really focus on enjoying the excitement of the experience.
In our Tandem Skydiving Guide , we offer more tips and tricks for first-time freefallers to take the plunge with confidence. Download the free guide today.
Douglas Smith is CEO/President, and Guest Relations Associate at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. He has owned and operated the business since 2000. He has been skydiving since 1994, and in addition to leading the CSC Team, is currently an instructor, videographer and pilot for CSC.
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