You can beat motion sickness

Motion sickness is that horrible feeling of nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, and the dreaded moment when you uncontrollably “lose your lunch” in the back seat of the car, in your airline seat, in your cabin on the boat, or in your seat on the train. It’s embarrassing, makes you feel helpless, and once your sick it can take quite a while to fully recover.

Motion sickness occurs when your eyes, inner ears, muscles, and skin send conflicting information to your brain about your body’s position, and the direction you are moving in. Your body effectively gets out of balance with the physical surroundings. If you find yourself in this horrible situation, or have a history of motion sickness there are some do’s and don’ts that will help to prevent, cope, and hopefully recover quickly.


Do

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  • stay calm
  • sit in the right place
  • face in the direction you're traveling
  • avoid the urge to stand
  • get fresh air in your face
  • focus on the horizon
  • take medications
Don't

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  • read while traveling
  • sit in the back seat
  • eat or drink alcohol
  • sit near others who are sick

Scott J. Hershman, MD, CCMEP‘s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do stay calm

Those who have a history of motion sickness can become motion sick just thinking about it. Others get sick when they see the car, boat, plane or train they will be traveling on, or just a picture of it. The challenge and the remedy is to try and stay relaxed and calm. Meditation has been recommended to reduce the stress.

Do sit in the right place

If you know you are susceptible to motion sickness then picking the right cabin or seat is critical to reducing your chances of getting sick. On a plane you should sit over the wing in an aisle seat. To avoid sea sickness on a cruise, book a cabin in the center of the boat near water level.

Do face in the direction you're traveling

In a car or train, always travel facing in the direction you are moving. Don’t stare out the window and focus on the trees or telephone poles go by. Also, avoid moving your head around quickly.

Do avoid the urge to stand

With the onset of motion sickness, the temptation is to stand in preparation for a quick run to the bathroom. Don’t do it. Standing simply adds more body motions that will aggravate the motion sickness.

Do get fresh air in your face

Fresh air directly in your face has shown to help, so open the car window, and turn your air vent on full above your seat on the plane, same as on a train. On a boat stay outside on deck as long as possible.

Do focus on the horizon

When you start to feel sick, try to focus on the horizon where the earth or ocean meets the sky. Your eyes will then see that you are in fact moving, which in effect, corrects the signals to the brain.

Do take medications

Antihistamines, such as Dramamine, Bonine, and Marezine, have proven to prevent motion sickness. You should take these medications before you start your trip, so that they are in full effect when you start driving, sailing, or flying.


Don't

Do not read while traveling

Leave all reading materials at home. Reading will cause and make motion sickness worse. This includes reading maps and in-car navigation systems as you drive. If you need directions while driving, rely on the voice commands of the electronic navigation system to get you where you need to be. Even reading text messages on your phone can initiate motion sickness. So simply don’t do it. Besides, it is dangerous to drive and text at the same time.

Do not sit in the back seat

Sit in the front of the car or volunteer to drive and don’t forget to turn on the air and focus the vents on your face. This has proven to be effective prevention for motion sickness.

Do not eat or drink alcohol

The best advice is to eat little or nothing during the trip in case you become nauseated. Eating some soda crackers or dry toast is advisable over spicy or greasy foods with strong odors which should be avoided. The odors alone can initiate nausea. Also, do not drink alcohol, this can make the motion sickness worse.

Do not sit near others who are sick

The fastest way to getting motion sickness is to be around others who are also sick. Even worse are the associated strong odors. A quick tip is to avoid public bathrooms if you feel nauseated. Better to use a private bathroom or if you are going to vomit, do so outside or overboard.


Summary

Motion sickness is not fun and thinking you might get sick and waiting for it to happen can be very stressful. Having motion sickness in public, around strangers, and on a long plane, train or car trip is embarrassing, and quickly becomes a personal crisis. Follow the do’s and don’ts above and hopefully you will find relief quickly.

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