Getting Over Motion Sickness

With school and college vacations coming soon, there could be a lot of travelling, and health experts ask travellers to watch out for nausea, sweating, vomiting, feelings of discomfort and churning of the stomach as these could indicate travel or motion sickness.
“When a person feels sick to the stomach on any mode of transport — cars, bus, airplanes, or ships — it is called motion sickness. There are no long-term problems but it can make a person miserable especially if you have to travel long distances,” says Dr Ramesh, ENT Consultant, Dayanadsagar Hospital.

Dr Sandhya Vijay, General Physician, Wellbeing Integrated Family Health Centre, says, “It is a condition in which there is a conflict between what your eyes see and what your inner ear senses. Your brain holds details about where you are and how you’re moving. It constantly updates this with information from your eyes and vestibular system (inside your ear). The vestibular system is a network of nerves, channels and fluids, which gives your brain a sense of motion and balance. If there is a mismatch of information between these two systems, your brain can’t update your current status and the resulting confusion will lead to symptoms of motion sickness.

Who are vulnerable?
Children between 5 and 12 yrs, women and the elderly are more prone to motion sickness. “It is a common problem with nearly 80 per cent of the general population suffering from motion sickness. People suffering from migraines or menieres syndrome (inner ear disorder) are more likely than others to have recurrent episodes,” feels Dr Sandhya Vijay.
Medication to relieve symptoms
It is better to take some medication before your journey to prevent symptoms. These include medicines like Hyoscine which is widely used to treat motion sickness, antihistamines as well as complementary therapies like using ginger or ginger products. Acupressure bands worn around the wrists are also supposed to help relieve the condition.
Though there are medications available for this condition, side-effects from anti-vomiting tablets cannot be ruled out. These include drowsiness, blurred vision and dizziness, and so the tablets should be taken with caution by children and the elderly, or by those who have medical conditions such as epilepsy, or heart, kidney, and liver diseases.
Treating symptoms naturally
These symptoms can usually be improved by using techniques such as keeping still or fixing your eyes on a single object inside the vehicle or distracting yourself by listening to music. Other self-help techniques like breathing in fresh air and generally trying to stay calm also help.

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Causes of motion sickness

  • Poor ventilation
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Food: one should avoid a heavy or spicy meal before a trip
  • Avoid alcohol before travelling
  • Genetic factors: it is more marked in some ethnic groups.
  • Susceptibility to vomiting during pregnancy appears to be related to motion sickness, although precise connections are not understood.

How can it be controlled?
Dr Ramesh suggests the following preventives to control motion sickness-

  • Do not travel on an empty stomach
  • Do not eat fatty or deep-fried food before you travel.
  • Eat light food every 2-3 hours while you are travelling.
  • Chewing on a dried root of ginger or sucking on a fresh piece of ginger in your mouth helps to quell the symptoms of nausea and stomach churning.
  • No carbonated drinks.
  • Eat high-protein bars or protein biscuits while you travel
    Sitting in front is better.
  • Try this ancient Chinese method – turn your palm upwards and use your middle finger and index finger to press down on the groove between the two large tendons on the inside of the wrist that start at the palm of the upper hand.