Do you dread riding on a plane, bus, train, boat, or even sitting in the back of a car? Does the motion make you feel dizzy or nauseated or bring headaches, vomiting or cold sweats? If you answered yes to these questions, you probably suffer from motion sickness.
Motion sickness takes effect when the motion you see is different from the motion you feel. Your eyes, inner ears, muscles and joints sense motion as the vehicle moves and send signals to your brain. However, you yourself are sitting still and aren’t moving inside the vehicle. Since these signals are divergent, the brain doesn’t know what to make of this and motion sickness occurs.
Although everyone experiences sensory conflict from time to time, not everyone gets uncomfortably ill as a result. While it isn’t known what makes one person able to tolerate sensory conflict better than another, it’s known that some people are more prone to motion sicknesses such as those who get migraine headaches and those who’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury.
How to Prevent and Treat Motion Sickness?
There is a range of motion sickness medicine available on the market that can effectively relieve nausea and other symptoms of motion sickness. If you’re naturally prone to experience these uncomfortable symptoms when travelling, here are some types of motions sickness medicine to consider and other tips that may help.
– Over-the-Counter Medicine
Antihistamines are a common option to prevent and treat motion sickness. Antihistamines to consider for this purpose include dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), meclizine (Antivert, Bonine), and diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Side effects caused by these medications include drowsiness.
– Prescription Medicine
One drug that doctors tend to prescribe for motion sickness is the antiemetic drug promethazine (Phenergan). Scopolamine oral pills and skin patch (Transderm Scop) are other options. Scopolamine skin patches are applied to the skin area behind the ear and can help prevent motion sickness for up to 3 days.
However, this product may create an uncomfortable dry mouth side effect. Patients with health problems or with glaucoma shouldn’t use this drug. So, make sure to tell your doctor about your existing health problems so that he/she can determine which drug is best suited for you.
– Nonpharmaceutical Remedies
There is an array of non-drug options that are considered helpful in relieving or preventing motion sickness. In most cases, the proof supporting these products is not as rigorous as that used to approve drugs. But still, it doesn’t heart to try one of these options. Ginger, in gums, pills, tablets, is available in many local herbal or health food stores. Eating peppermint is also known to help due to its calming quality.
– Other things that you can do include:
- Give preference to seats where you will feel the least motion. If travelling by plane, the middle of an aeroplane over the wing is the calmest area to fly. On a ship, passengers in lower level cabins near the centre of the ship tend to experience less motion than passengers in higher or outer cabins. If travelling by car, choose to sit in the front seat and look at the distant scenery in front of you.
- Change positions – Some people find that lying down improves their motion sickness. For others, standing up is a better position. Of course, your options will depend on your type of travel, so experiment to find out what works best for you. When travelling by car, leaning your head against your headrest may help as it lessens your head movements.
- Don’t read in a moving vehicle – If you are prone to motion sickness, reading a book, or on your phone or computer, is likely to make it worse.
- Open the windows or go outdoors if your motion sickness is overwhelming you – If your mode of travel doesn’t allow this, turn the air vents toward you or consider using a portable fan to blow air on your face. Keep in mind that cigarette smoke may also make your sickness worse.
- Avoid greasy or acidic foods – In the hours before you travel, avoid eating heavy, greasy, and acidic foods. Bacon, sausage, pancakes, coffee, orange juice, etc, are slow to digest, and in the case of coffee, it can speed up dehydration. Better choices include cereals, grains, bread, milk, apple juice, apples or bananas. This doesn’t mean to skip eating – just not overeat.
- Drink plenty of water – this will help keep your mouth moist and your body hydrated.
- Avoid drinking alcohol – Alcohol speeds up dehydration and tends to lower the body’s resistance to motion sickness if you are prone to it.
- Eat dry crackers – Crackers are known to help settle a queasy stomach.
- Distract with music or conversation – Switch on the radio or strike up a conversation to keep your mind off how you’re feeling. Listening to a song that you like or talking about a topic that is interesting for you may distract yourself enough to feel better. Research has proven that listening to music helps with nausea and other physiological symptoms associated with motion sickness.