If you or a family member have ever experienced motion sickness, you know it can turn even the most fun trip into a long and painful experience. Medical experts don’t know why some people suffer from motion sickness more than others, but we do know that the best way to deal with motion sickness is to address it before it starts.
Motion sickness is most common among women and children ages 5 to 12. What causes it? During your day-to-day travels, your brain senses movement by getting signals from your inner ear, eyes, muscles and joints. When there is unnatural movement and those signals don’t match, it can make you feel nauseous and dizzy or cause a headache or sweating. These symptoms won’t go away until the motion stops, and it often takes time for them to disappear.
That’s why riding in cars, trains, boats and airplanes can cause prolonged motion sickness. Even amusement park rides and video games can create issues.
The best way to deal with motion sickness is to address it before it starts. If you have a trip planned and are concerned about motion sickness, MinuteClinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants can help. They can assess your motion sickness symptoms and triggers beforehand, and provide you with the best options to keep you feeling your best.
Some common options include:
Over-the-counter antihistamines (brand names such as Dramamin® or Bonine®) can be found at local retailers, including CVS/pharmacy stores, and should be taken at least an hour before a trip for maximum effectiveness. They can cause drowsiness, so exercise caution when using them. In particular, avoid driving and don’t mix them with alcohol or other medications that make you sleepy. Chewable tablets are available for children who have trouble swallowing pills.
Prescription scopolamine is available in many forms including patches or pills and is another class of medication to treat motion sickness, especially when over-the-counter options are not effective. The patch can be applied behind the ear at least four hours in advance of motion activity. The medication is then slowly absorbed through the underlying skin and into the body. Prescription scopolamine can also cause drowsiness and blurred vision, so make sure to follow your health care provider’s instructions when using them.
Some evidence has shown that natural remedies such as ginger can be helpful in preventing various forms of nausea, including motion sickness. Powdered ginger capsules are a great option and should be taken before traveling.
In addition, acupressure bands or bracelets approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) such as PsiBands® and Sea-Bands® may lessen or eliminate nausea and vomiting. They’re drug-free, relatively inexpensive, have no side effects and can be purchased at CVS/pharmacy stores and other retailers.
There are things you can do to lessen or even eliminate nausea or motion sickness. Try these tips:
- Choose a seat in an area less affected by motion, like the wings of the plane, the center of a ship at the waterline, or the front of a train.
- In the car, make sure your child can see the road over or between seats. On boats, have them look at the horizon.
- If you’re prone to motion sickness, avoid reading or watching movies when traveling, especially in cars or on trains.
- For children, focus on activities that involve looking out the window, like counting the number of cars that go by or playing I-Spy. It can also be helpful to have children look out the front window and pretend that they’re driving, by pretend-steering the car and using the gas/brakes.
- Stick to light meals and avoid greasy, fatty or spicy foods. Eliminate foods that create smells in a confined vehicle.
- If a child becomes sick, have them stop what they’re doing immediately, close their eyes and recline as much as possible. Fresh air helps, so take a break from driving or open the window and get rid of anything that smells in the car.
- Pack dry crackers and ginger ale to help settle an upset stomach.
Taking these preventive measures will help to ensure that you stay free from motion sickness and that you’re back in action and ready for your next adventure. Happy travels!
For more information, please visit CVS/pharmacy motion sickness page.