What is travel sickness?
Travel sickness is the disturbance of the inner ear caused by conflicts in the information received by the different sensory systems responsible for monitoring balance in the body. It can be experienced in any type of moving vehicle, for example, car, airplane, boat or amusement park rides. Travel sickness and seasickness are one and the same thing.
These are the various parts of the sensory system responsible for monitoring motion and balance in our body:
Inner ears - monitor the direction of motion
Eyes - monitor where the body is and in what direction or motion it is going
Skin pressure sensors - monitors what parts of the body are touching something
Muscle and joint sensors - monitor what parts of the body are moving
Who is most susceptible to travel sickness?
Children who are between 2 to 12 years old are more likely to experience or suffer from travel sickness as compared to adults and younger children. Women more than men are also more susceptible to this condition, which is sometimes attributed to hormonal changes that happen in a woman's body during pregnancy and menstruation.
What can trigger travel sickness?
- Certain foods and beverages. For example, fatty and spicy foods and fizzy or alcoholic beverages
- Fumes and petrol
- Reading a book or a map while travelling
- Playing computer games
What are the common symptoms of travel sickness?
- Feeling unwell and tired
- Looking very pale
- Excessive production of saliva
What are the medication options?
Medication can be effective in lessening the possibility of experiencing travel or motion sickness. Taking motion sickness pills will only be effective if taken prior to travel. Depending on what type of medicine you are taking, some can be taken 30 minutes to 2 hours before travel. Others can even be taken 5-6 hours before travel time or the night before.
Here are some of the common types of medication used to treat travel sickness:
Antihistamines - examples are: chlorpheniramine, cyclizine, cyclizine HCl, dimenhydrinate, diphenhydramine, meclizine
Anticholinergics - Scopolamine is the most widely used and proven to be effective at preventing motion sickness. It is usually administered in a patch form.
Antidopaminergics - promethazine (Phenergan, Pentazine) and metoclopramide (Reglan) are examples in this category
Other Medications - Ephedrine and some amphetamines are used to help counter the sedating effects of other medical treatments. Benzodiazepines have also been useful for some people with motion sickness. Antiemetic (anti-nausea) medications have been used to control nausea and vomiting after motion sickness has developed.
What natural remedies are available?
Natural remedies are sometimes the better option because these are generally free from side effects and do not cause drowsiness. However, if you are pregnant and or breastfeeding, taking medications, or unsure, it is always best to consult with your doctor.
Ginger - even for those who are not particularly fond of its taste, there are a lot of forms that you can take. Because it is widely known to be effective, even instantly, there are a lot of preparations that can suit your taste: cookies, candies, tea, juice or even pills.
Peppermint - just like ginger, peppermint can also help calm the stomach and ease motion sickness symptoms.
Other herbs - fenugreek, fennel, black horehound, marjoram, rosemary, basil, cloves, licorice, nutmeg and chamomile tea
Acupressure - there are sea sickness bands that work by pressing on an acupressure point to help provide relief for travel or motion sickness.
How do I prevent getting travel sickness?
Although once you've had an episode of travel sickness, it is likely you will be susceptible each time you travel, there are some measures you can take to help lessen the effects, and even prevent it from happening.
Here is a list of simple tips to follow:
Avoid food and drinks that usually cause you to feel sick before travelling. These usually include alcoholic beverages, soda, spicy, fatty, and rich creamy food.
Avoid strong odours and scents.
Choose a spot or seat that will not cause you to feel sick. The middle of a plane over the wing is considered to be the calmest area. Whilst on a ship, the lower level cabins near the center usually have less motion.
Always face the direction of the travel.
Gaze your eyes directly to the front of the vehicle and avoid looking to the sides.
Sit in the front seat of the car.
Do not read or use your phone or any gadget while travelling.
Open a vent or source of fresh air.
Do not go near people who are already having episodes of motion sickness. Being around people who talk about motion sickness will affect your disposition and can trigger an attack. Page updated 07/02/16 6:36:06 a.m.