How To Prevent Motion Sickness
Learn to prevent and treat motion sickness. Motion sickness is suffered by roughly one-third the American population. This devestating illness can ruin a vacation.
WHAT IS MOTION SICKNESS?
Motion sickness occurs when your body receives conflicting messages from your brain. While you're riding in a car, for example, your eyes tell your brain that you are moving. Your body, however, feels no movement whatsoever. People who experience nausea, vomiting or dizziness while traveling in a plane, automobile or on an amusement ride, experience the effects of Motion Sickness.
YOUR INNER EAR
The key to understanding and treating motion sickness lies within your inner ear. Your inner ear serves as the balance center for your entire body. Your sense of balance is maintained by a complex interaction of many parts of your nervous system, including your inner ear, your eyes, skin pressure, muscles and joint sensory receptors and your spinal cord. When any one of these parts receives an inaccurate message, you will suffer motion sickness.
There are many different parts of your central nervous system that keep your sense of balance in check.
INNER EARS (labyrinth) monitor the directions of motion, sending messages to your brain that tell you when you're turning, leaning or moving.
EYES are responsible for monitoring where your body is and which direction you're moving.
SKIN pressure receptors (such as the feet and seat) tell your brain what part of your body is down and which parts are touching the ground.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (brain and spinal cord) processes all those little bits of information and tries to coordinate them.
SYMPTOMS OF MOTION SICKNESS
While some experience only mild self-limiting symptoms, many suffer from long term motion sickness that does not end when travel is stopped. If you experience dizziness, vomiting or general malaise hours (or even days) after travel, consult your health care professional.
The best way to treat Motion Sickness is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Over the counter and prescription medications are effective in controlling the onset of motion sickness in most people. Once the symptoms have set in however, it's much more difficult to treat. Oral medications don't get into the bloodstream fast enough because travel sickness slows the digestive process. Dizziness sometimes can take up to an hour to subside. Your best treatment is prevention.
If motion sickness does occur during travel, there are a few measures you can take to ease discomfort.
1. STOP. It's the motion that's causing the problem. When traveling by car, stop and allow your body enough time to readjust and gain its bearings.
2. FRESH AIR. Fresh air can go a long way in preventing and treating active motion sickness. Keep windows cracked and stay away from strong odors like smoke and food while traveling.
3. LAY DOWN. If at all possible, recline and close your eyes. This will aid your body in readjusting its perspective.
4. TRY COLD. A cold washcloth on the forehead is effective with some forms of motion sickness.
5. WATCH THE HORIZON. If you keep your eyes to the horizon, you will follow less motion. Don't watch zooming cars going by or the scenery out the window. Stay still and focus on the horizon.
1. In a car, sit in the front seat and always look ahead.
2. If traveling by plane, choose a seat over the wing where there is commonly less movement.
3. On a ship, remain on deck, where your body is better able to realize you are moving.
4. Keep your head still. Sudden movements, such as turning, craning to see things and looking out side windows gives mixed signals to your already irritated inner ear.
5. Eat lightly or not at all. Sipping small amounts of liquids during travel can help to ease nausea.
6. Stay away from strong odors.
7. Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol contributes to dizziness.
8. Do not read while traveling.
OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS
There are many different forms of over-the-counter medications available for the difficult traveler which work to silence the vomiting center of the brain.
It's important to note that not all medications work the same. Some over-the-counter treatments are made to treat the stomach and others, to curb dizziness. If you have a good understanding of how your body responds to motion, you'll be better able to pick the treatment choice that's best for you.
Commonly known as Bonine, Dramamine II and Antivert, this over-the-counter remedy is used to treat dizziness. Meclizine Hydrochloride is actually a strong antihistamine, which is believed to work by affecting the central nervous system's ability to manage balance. If you suffer dizziness and travel related nausea, meclizine works well. Side effects of this medication include drowsiness and dry mouth. Take thirty minutes to one hour before traveling.
More commonly known as Dramamine, this drug works on the stomach, to soothe and settle. For those whose rides are uncomfortable and involve limited dizziness, dimenhydrinate works wonders. Side effects from this medication include drowsiness and dry mouth. Take one hour before traveling.
Sold under the brand name Marezine, this is another antihistamine that works to prevent nausea and vomiting. Take one hour before intended travel.
In recent years, as doctors begin to become more aware of what takes place in the human body during episodes of motion sickness, new and better non-drug related therapies have emerged. Unlike their over-the-counter counterparts, some of these treatments are effective even after sickness has set in.
This is an effective, long trusted treatment against the battle of motion sickness and upset stomach. Acupressure wristbands work by providing pressure along a series of energy channels (or paths) in the body called "meridians."
By applying pressure to these points, your vomiting center is quieted. The pressure point for motion sickness is referred to as P6, and is located on the inside of your forearm, about two thumb widths above your wrist bend. Specially made elastic bracelets or bands properly apply pressure necessary to curb illness. No pre-treatment is necessary.
Swedish researchers have used ginger for years to treat new naval recruits. Ingesting 2-4g of ginger an hour before travel works well in helping your body to control nausea and vomiting. Ginger can also be taken during travel.
Though most people respond well to over-the-counter or natural treatments, severe forms of motion sickness may require prescription medication. Newer drugs are proving to be more effective than ever. If you suffer serious motion sickness, talk to your health care provider about:
PHENERGAN: An oral drug used to treat and control severe nausea and vomiting.
SCOPOLAMINE: Sold as an external patch that you place behind your ear, scopolamine is a naturally occurring belladonna alkaloid that is quite successful at treating and preventing severe nausea and vomiting. Because it works by altering stimulation to the central nervous system, it cannot be used for long periods of time.
The symptoms of motion sickness generally disappear once travel has stopped. Cool rags, low level lighting and laying in a reclining position will help to treat general discomfort. Motion sickness experienced over several days or weeks often requires treatment by a professional.