Imagine this, you are all set with your backpack stacked up with all your essentials, phone fully charged with your favorite playlist and the map to your destination memorized and engraved in your mind but as soon as the car starts to move through those curvy routes your body ditches you with the sinful co-partner named “motion sickness” turning your beautiful journey into an unpleasant one.
“Motion sickness” or “sea sickness” also known as “mal de mer” is a very common disorder faced by people while travelling on a boat, ship, car, bus and train. The repeated motion from a vehicle or any other movements that disturb the inner ear creates this woozy effect in our body.
The Root Cause:
In easy words, motion sickness is caused when there is an imbalance between what you see and what you feel. In harder words, motion sickness appears when the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the sensory systems: the inner ear, eyes, skin pressure receptors, and the muscle and joint sensory receptors.
Motion is sensed by the brain through different pathways of our nervous system including the inner ear, the eyes, and the tissues of the body surface. When the body is moved intentionally, for example when walking, the input from all of the pathways are coordinated by our brain but when someone is seated inside a moving vehicle without looking out of a window, their inner ears sense movement up and down, left and right, while their eyes experience a static view, as if they are not moving at all. These conflicting inputs are responsible for motion sickness.
Motion sickness is also triggered due to fluid buildup in your inner ear or an ear infection as well as Parkinson’s disease can cause motion sickness.
Motion sickness is commonly seen in older people, pregnant women, and children between the ages of 5 – 12 years. Also, it’s common in people who have migraine headaches or run it in their genes.
It is not a permanent uneasiness, once the motion stops, the motion sickness stops. You’ll gradually start to feel better.
The symptoms are categorized into 3 sections and can strike without warning getting worse quickly.
Serious symptoms include:
Pallor or pale skin
Mild symptoms are:
Other common signs are categorized as:
A general feeling of discomfort
Not feeling well (malaise)
Motion sickness resolves itself quickly and doesn’t usually require a professional diagnosis. Most people know the feeling when it’s coming on because the illness only occurs during travel or other specific activities so they often are mild and self-treatable. However, very severe cases, and those that become progressively worse, deserve the attention and care of a physician with special skill in diseases of the ear, balance (equilibrium), and nervous system.
The doctor will do a physical exam which will include looking inside your ears and at your eyes and a set of questions regarding your health history and symptoms to find out the root cause before recommending treatment. Laboratory tests are generally not necessary to diagnose motion sickness.
The distressing symptoms of motion sickness usually stop when the motion causing it ceases. But this is not always true. There are people who suffer symptoms for even a few days after the trip is over.
The following remedies may help:
Play a staring contest with the horizon
Gazing out of the window towards the horizon in the direction of travel helps to reorient the inner sense of balance by providing a visual reaffirmation of motion.
Give your beautiful eyes a break
In case your luck doesn’t favor a window seat, it is helpful to simply close eyes, or if possible, take a nap. This halts and resolves the input conflict between the eyes and the inner ear.
Chew it up
The most simple and tasty method to beat mild car sickness is chewing. Munch on some light snacks or on your favourite sweets to reduce the adverse effects of the conflict between vision and balance. If you are a gum shipper travelling will be a fruitful time to invest in trying out all the new flavours. After all, getting a chance to build a great jawline unconsciously is always a bonus.
Catch some fresh air
Fresh, cool air relieves motion sickness slightly, although it is likely to avoid foul odors, which can worsen your nausea.
Make the Superfood Ginger your Best Friend
Ginger may act as a novel agent in the prevention and treatment of motion sickness. It has long been used as an alternative medication to prevent motion sickness.
Ginger effectively reduces nausea, tachygastria activity or increased rate of contractions of the stomach, and vasopressin release induced by circular vection or illusions of self-motion.
It can be taken in tablet form, or a fresh stem of ginger can be chewed to relieve symptoms further reducing electrical activity in the stomach, which often leads to nausea.
Switch into the healing powers of your fingers
Studies suggest that acupressure may help reduce symptoms of motion sickness in the same way as acupuncture, although the evidence is not clear. Acupressure practitioners stimulate the healing sites with finger pressure, instead of inserting fine needles.
10 More Keys to Prevent Motion Sickness
Choose light snacking and fresh fruit juices instead of heavy spicy fat rich foods and alcohol that makes you unusually full.
Avoid strong food odors and intense perfume to keep nausea at bay.
While travelling far distances request or look for a seat where you will experience the least motion. The middle of an airplane over the wing is considered to be the calmest area of an airplane. In case of a ship, lower level cabins near the center of a ship generally experience less motion than the higher or outer cabins.
Opt for a seat in your direction of travel so that the eyes can see the same motion that the body and inner ear feels.
Sit in the front seat of a car.
Stop relating others with yourself who may be suffering from motion sickness. Hearing others talk about motion sickness or relating yourself with an ill person can sometimes make your mind trigger to make yourself feel ill.
Avoid reading while traveling if you are prone to motion sickness.
Listen to music while enjoying the passersby.
Take proper medication for longer trips or if you repeatedly develop severe motion sickness.
Avoid greasy foods immediately before and during travelling.
The effectiveness of popular folk remedies such as soda crackers and 7 Up, cola syrup over ice, or ginger ale drink has not been investigated in the field of medical research but they are considered best to relieve nausea. The listed medicines here are some prescribed and some are over the counter medicines. It is recommended to take medicine before travelling.
Scopolamine is the most commonly prescribed medication for motion sickness. It must be taken before symptoms start. It is available as a patch that is placed behind the ear 6-8 hours before travel. This medicine may trigger drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, or trouble seeing clearly. It is strictly advised to not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you. If you plan to participate in underwater sports, you may feel lost or confused (disoriented)
Promethazine should be taken 2 hours before travelling. The effects last 6-8 hours. Side effects may include drowsiness and dry mouth.
Cyclizine is another most effective when taken at least 30 minutes before travelling. It is not recommended for children younger than 6, and side effects are similar to scopolamine.
Dimenhydrinate is taken every 4-8 hours. Side effects are similar to scopolamine.
Dimenhydrinate chewing gum is a good medicine and studies showed patients can absorb the medication through the cheek.
Meclizine (Bonine) is most effective when taken 1 hour before travel but it is not recommended for children under 12. Side effects may include drowsiness and dry mouth.
Antihistamines (Benadryl) can be helpful. However, these usually make you sleepy. Non-drowsy antihistamines are not effective in treating or preventing motion sickness.
Antiemetics are another type of medicine used to treat nausea and vomiting.
What to do if your motion sickness is a permanent travel mate?
Planning ahead is the best medicine for motion sickness. For mild motion sickness, medicines are effective but if you have a tendency of motion sickness every time you travel, plan your diet ahead and take proper rest, avoid trigger points and select your seat carefully.
To conclude, proper understanding of the situations that triggers motion sickness is the most important part and taking prescribed medicines when there is a serious need can be an effective way to amplify your enjoyment and make the most out of your beautiful journey.
Stay safe, Stay healthy!