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How to Prevent and Treat Motion Sickness

preventing and treating motion sickness

Almost everyone has experienced at least one form of motion sickness. Boat, plane, car, train – motion sickness can happen on any of these. The symptoms range from mild nausea and dizziness to vomiting and cold sweats.

Motion sickness is thought to be primarily caused by conflicting neural signals. Your inner ear helps your body detect movement. When you are in motion, your inner ear sends signals to your brain to let it know that you are in motion. But your eyes may be telling your brain a different story. For example, if you are below deck on a ship, you might not be able to see the waves that are rocking your boat. Your eyes tell your brain that you’re not moving, but your inner ear says the opposite. This disconnect causes motion sickness.

Recent studies on motion sickness reveal that it may be more complex than previously thought. The fact that blind people can experience motion sickness suggests that while motion sickness may have a visual component in many circumstances, the most important aspect may be the motion itself.

The bottom line is this: motion sickness can occur in a number of different ways. More important than what causes it, however, is how to prevent it and treat it.

Preventing Motion Sickness

  • Choose your seat wisely – If you are on a boat, the best place to be is on the upper deck. If you are below deck, it is better to be closer to the front and in the center (the outer cabins will experience more rocking). On a plane, the best seats are those towards the front of the wings (minimal turbulence). On a train, it’s best to be as close to the front as possible. Finally, in a car, it’s best to be in the front seat looking forward out the window.
  • Watch what you eat and drink beforehand. Don’t eat too much food and try to avoid greasy, heavy or spicy food. The best things to eat are easy to process carbs that will move through your stomach quickly. If you have a heavy meal sitting in your stomach it is only going to exacerbate your nausea. Alcohol is also a bad idea, especially in large quantities. If you are hungover, good luck.
  • Take an over the counter anti-histamine. Meclozine (also known as meclizine and commonly sold as Bonine, Bonamine, Antivert, Postafen, Sea Legs, and Dramamine) is a drug that has antivertigo and antiemetic (counters vomiting and nausea) effects. A typical dose is 25-100 mg, taken one hour before travel for best results. Drowsiness is a common side effect.
  • For severe or long-term motion sickness consider using a scopolamine patch. Scopolamine, also known as levo-duboisine or hyoscine, is prescribed by a doctor as an adhesive patch that provides relief for up to 72 hours. If you have suffered from motion sickness in the past and you are planning to spend a lot of time in transit, talk to your doctor about scopolamine as a possible solution.

Treating Motion Sickness

The best treatment for motion sickness? Stop moving. If that isn’t an option, try these:

  • Get some air. This could mean opening a window, directing a fan to your face (or an air vent on an airplane) or giving yourself some distance from others if possible.
  • Focus on a distant object. Looking down and reading are some of the worst things you can do.
  • Try to keep your head as still as possible. Even better if you have a seat back to rest it on. Keeping your head still will help stabilize your inner ear.
  • Try to think about something other than motion, vomiting etc. Thinking about the motion and your nausea can amplify it. Try distracting yourself with thoughts of something else.
  • Tell the driver to stop. Ok, so you might not be in a form of transportation where you can stop the driver, but if you are, don’t be afraid to tell the driver to stop. There’s no need to be a hero. Stop the car. Get some air. Feel better.

Do you get motion sickness? Do you have any special remedies that work for you? Let us know in the comments.

Photo credit: lethaargic

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Roy Gamlin September 13, 2011, 9:55 am

    This travel visor really works. The lab tests are available on the website. Low cost, lasts for ever. No tablets. Travel straightaway.

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