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Motion Sickness Prevention and Cure Tips


Motion Sickness.  I was feeling queasy the other day, and a flight crew buddy of mine gave me some motion sickness bags. Luckily I never had to use them.
Ian Munroe/ian_munroe/flickr.com Creative Commons License

Motion sickness puts a real cramp in your travel style. If you're at sea or traveling by car, bus or train, you'll need motion sickness prevention tips and long term cure ideas. If you're flying, you may just need to avail yourself of the "barf bag" when motion sickness strikes, but you can still try to make motion sickness on a plane as painless as possible. Let's understand what motion sickness is, understand what causes it and study some prevention and remedy ideas.

What is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness starts with a mild feeling of nausea while you're traveling in a car or on a bus, boat, train or plane. If you don't deal with it, it will progress to a bad case of the sweats while your tummy feels worse and worse; eventually, you'll be vomiting - perhaps nonstop. That will lead to dehydration and utter misery. Not a way you want to spend your traveling time - and you don't want to arrive at your destination completely whipped from motion sickness' side effects (fatigue since you can't sleep while throwing up, sore throat from constant vomiting and a general feeling of malaise as you haven't been able to keep down food).

What Causes Motion Sickness?

Your inner ear. According to WebMD.com: "Motion sickness occurs when the inner ear, the eyes, and other areas of the body that detect motion send conflicting messages to the brain. One part of your balance-sensing system (your inner ear, vision, and sensory nerves that help you keep your balance) may indicate that your body is moving, while the other parts do not sense motion. For example, if you are in the cabin of a moving ship, your inner ear may sense the motion of big waves, but your eyes don't see any movement. This leads to a conflict between the senses and results in motion sickness."

Motion Sickness Prevention

How to stop motion sickness before it starts? For starters, you can try several over-the-counter preventative drugs and devices. Fellow travelers have reported great success with scopolamine patches, worn behind the ear. About Guide to Alternative Medicine Cathy Wong, N.D., has some homeopathic suggestions if drugs don't appeal to you.
  • Eat before you travel; starting out with something in your tummy will help. If you do vomit, you'll at least be able to expel something besides stomach bile, which hurts (bad) as it comes through your throat by itself. If time permits, plug your nose before you throw up - keeps the vomit from clogging and paining your nostrils. And it keeps the smell of vomit out of your nose - that unlovely aroma can cause psychosomatic vomiting.

How Can I Cure Motion Sickness?

Once you're traveling in a car or bus or on a boat or train and motion sickness has struck, try these cures / remedies:
  • Look at the horizon; focus on a distant point. If traveling by car, sit in a front seat - makes it easier to focus on the horizon and keep your eyes in tune with the motion of the car. Don't read - keep watching your horizon focal point. Roll down the window - fresh air helps. Stop often and get out and walk around: restores your sense of balance.
  • Carry or have access to lots of liquids - club soda is a great stomach settler; if you are vomiting severely, you need water and electrolytes before you'll feel better and, perhaps, medical attention if you become dehydrated. Guzzle H2O and electrolyte-laden beverages like Gatorade, even if your belly keeps tossing the liquid overboard or out the window. Drink at least eight ounces of liquid every time you throw up.

Traveling by plane? Try the over the counter helpers. Scopolamine patches are meant for long term (up to three day) use, so give them some consideration for long overseas flights. It's hard to find a horizon focal point unless you have a window seat and a clear day and, of course, this technique is useless at night. If you don't want to risk the drowsiness drugs can cause (who wants to land overseas and head straight for the hotel to sleep?), your only choice may be the "barf bag". Ensure that you stay hydrated! Puddle jumper planes may expose you to turbulence that will make you feel sick - not necessarily motion sickness, just a slow roll and boil of the stomach. It'll pass when you're back on solid ground.

If you're prone to motion sickness, you may want to carry your own (sorry) barf bags - check 'em out here. They're stronger than the sort offered by airlines (imagine dealing with a formerly full and now split bag on top of feeling terrible). In a car, bags are a bit more convenient than sticking your head out the window when there is no time to pull over and - ach - less embarrassing than treating fellow travelers to your misery in slow moving traffic.

Take precautions and take care and remember, it will end eventually!

"I think that wherever your journey takes you, there are new gods waiting there, with divine patience -- and laughter."
--Susan M. Watkins

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