Coping with Motion Sickness: Tips & Tricks

At some point in life most people will combat motion sickness. Even discussing the uncomfortable feelings of dizziness, nausea and vomiting that an estimated 80 per cent of the general population will experience with motion sickness might bring up some less than fond memories of travel for many of us. However, there are a few things we can try to make this unpleasant condition bearable while we travel.

What is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness can occur in response to different movements while travelling on various types of transportation. Although anyone can get motion sickness, it has been found that children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

Motion sickness happens when the movements you see and the movements sensed by the balance mechanism in your inner ear (the vestibular system) differ. For instance, if you see someone looking through the window of a vehicle or standing on a ship, your eyes might see the person stationary and relay that information to your brain. However, your vestibular systems might detect head movements in the person that originates from the motion of the vehicle and will send a different message to your brain. This can result in motion sickness.

Symptoms associated with motion sickness can include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and generally feeling unwell. These symptoms can range from mild to serious and will vary for person to person.

Tips for coping with Motion Sickness

Here are a few simple tips and tricks help you cope with and minimise the effects of motion sickness.

  • Plan ahead while travelling. Reserve seats where motion is felt least. Request for a seat at the front if travelling by ship or automobile, next to a window near the front if travelling by train or a seat over the front edge of a wing in an airplane.
  • Focus on a distant, stationary object or the horizon instead of looking at the inside of a vehicle or reading a book.
  • Close your eyes. This trick might help by removing sensory confusion.
  • Avoid the intake of alcohol (24 hours before travelling and during the trip) or spicy and greasy food, and try to avoid overeating as this can also be associated with motion sickness.
  • Get plenty of fresh air. Avoid smoking or sitting close to smokers. Sit next to a window if possible or direct the air vent flow to your face in a plane.
  • Sucking on ginger candy or flavoured lozenges may also help.
  • Take an over the counter motion sickness medicine. It is most effective to take it at least 30-60 minutes before you travel. Do take note that most motion sickness medicine may cause drowsiness.
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