Motion sickness is a nightmare for travelers who are susceptible to it. It can occur when the sensory inputs about body position contradict what is expected. Motion sickness can be provoked by abrupt changes in movement such as occur during bumpy rides, turbulent flights and rough seas. It can also occur when one is exposed to moving visual scenes while the body is in a relatively fixed state.
What Is Motion Sickness
Motion Sickness is an acute condition of medical distress that results in skin paleness, restlessness and cold sweat. It often starts as stomach discomfort. In later stages, nausea, excessive salivation and vomiting occur. The degree of symptoms depends upon the susceptibility of the person and intensity of stimuli.
Some groups seem particularly susceptible to motion sickness including children aged three-12 years, people who experience migraine, and women particularly during menstruation and pregnancy. Studies have found the prevalence of motion sickness to be about 27 per cent.
Motion Sickness Symptoms
The common signs of Motion Sickness are sweating and a general feeling of discomfort, malaise and pale skin. The symptoms of motion sickness include :-
- Increased salivation
- Dizziness (vertigo)
Causes Of Motion Sickness
Motion Sickness can be due to many reasons :-
- Classic Sensory Conflicts: Motion sickness occurs when there is a mismatch of messages delivered by inner ear (vestibular receptors), eyes and the deeper tissues of the skin muscles (proprioceptors). Sensory signals conflict with each other and the brain’s positional memory.As an example, if you are traveling in a car and reading a book, your inner ear and skin receptors will detect that you are moving forward. However, your eyes are looking at a book that isn’t moving and your muscle receptors are telling your brain that you are sitting still. So the brain gets a little confused. Things may begin to appear a little scrambled inside your head – and you get motion sickness.
- Postural Instability : In experiments, it was found that motion sickness was usually preceded by a statistically significant increase in several indices of postural sway. In these cases, motion sickness symptoms were not linked to sensory conflict, but rather to a decreased ability to actively control body’s postural motion.
- If you cannot see the motion your body’s feeling, or conversely, if you cannot feel the motion your eyes see, then the brain will get mixed signals and the person will develop motion sickness.
How To Stop Motion Sickness
While medication may be an acceptable treatment for travelers who experience motion sickness occasionally, the goal for individuals who experience motion sickness on a regular basis or whose work is affected by their symptoms is to learn to control and eventually prevent these symptoms.
- Watch your consumption of food, drink and alcohol before and during travel. Eat a light meal no less than three hours before exposure. Avoid excessive alcohol, smoking and disagreeable odors. Avoid dairy products and foods high in protein calories and sodium before starting the journey.
- Stay occupied to distract your mind from thinking about motion sickness.
- Avoid visual stimuli (reading, watching videos) as they make you more prone to motion sickness.
- Choose a seat where you will experience the least motion. Do not sit facing backwards from your direction of travel. When traveling by car, it helps if you keep your gaze fixed on the horizon or look at a distant point.
- Reduce anxiety and fear. Some individuals are naturally prone to motion sickness but fear or anxiety can promote symptoms.
- Isolate yourself from others who may be suffering from motion sickness. Hearing about motion sickness or seeing others becoming ill can sometimes make you feel ill yourself.
- Limit head movements (for example pressing your head into the headrest).
- Increase ventilation or exposure to cool, fresh air.
Motion Sickness Treatment
Motion Sickness Medications should be taken after consulting your physician. Over-the-counter medications can offer motion sickness relief. Popular choices include meclizine, sold under brand names such as Bonine, Antivert and dimenhydrinate found in brands such as Dramamine. Certain prescription medications, such as a scopolamine patch (Transderm Scop) or Promethazine (Promethegan) can also help relieve severe motion sickness.
Medications for motion sickness may cause drowsiness and impair judgement and therefore should be avoided by pilots, astronauts, ship crew-members and any person in the occupation where he or she uses machinery. In such cases, biofeedback training and relaxation and cognitive behavior therapy can be useful.
Biofeedback Training and Relaxation: In a study of 55 pilots who had to stop flying due to symptoms of motion sickness 76 per cent of them successfully overcame their motion sickness and returned to work after participating in a biofeedback training and relaxation programme. Pilots were exposed to a stimulus that caused motion sickness (sitting in a tilting rotating chair). While sitting in the chair the pilot performed various relaxation techniques such as deep muscles relaxation and mental imagery.
After some time when the pilots were habituated to the rotating chair, they no longer felt sick because they learnt to relax in it.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy: The goal of this therapy is to alleviate the anxiety that some people experience simply thinking about motion sickness. In a study of 50 pilots who occasionally experienced motion sickness, 86 per cent of them successfully overcame their symptoms after cognitive behavior therapy.
Breathing technique: Taking slow, deep breaths can reduce symptoms.
Motion Sickness Medicine
Side effects of motion sickness medicine include dry mouth, drowsiness, blurred vision and disorientation.
- Scopolamine (Transderm Scop) : It is one of the most commonly prescribed medication for motion sickness. It comes in patch form to put behind your ear 6 – 8 hours before travel or before symptoms start. The effects last up to 3 days.
- Promethazine (Phenergan) : It needs to be taken about 2 hours before travel. The effects last 6 – 8 hours.
- Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) : It can be taken every 4 – 8 hours.
- Meclizine (Bonine) : It works best when taken 1 hour before travel. It is not recommended for children younger than 12.
- Cyclizine (Marezine) : It works best when taken at least 30 minutes before travel. It is not recommended for children younger than 6.
( Source: University of Maryland Medical Center )
Home Remedies For Motion Sickness
Following are some very effective home remedies for motion sickness :-
- Ginger For Motion Sickness : Ginger has a natural anti-nausea effect. Sipping Ginger Tea or having Ginger Candy, Ginger Gum, Ginger Ale or Ginger tablet is an effective and safe remedy for Motion Sickness. Alternatively, a quicker solution is to just take a half teaspoon of the fresh ginger and finely dice it with a knife and swallow it whole.
- Take a Nutmeg half and place it under your tongue. The nutmeg has calming and stabilizing effects and when placed under the tongue it enters the blood stream quickly.
- Peppermint oil is a good remedy for Motion sickness and nausea. If it is not available, peppermint gum or candy (Life Savers) can help.
- Practitioners of acupuncture and acupressure believe wearing acupressure bands may stop nausea and vomiting. There is little evidence that acupressure bands work to prevent motion sickness. But the bands have no known side effects, so there is no harm in trying them.
- Black horehound taken in the form of capsules, powders, liquid extracts or teas is a traditional remedy for motion sickness
Airplane Motion Sickness
Airplane Motion sickness happens when your inner ear senses movement, but your eyes tell your body that you’re sitting still. Due to this conflicting signals are received by the brain . Airplane Motion Sickness can also develop due to turbulence in an airplane.
Tips to Avoid Airplane Motion Sickness
- In smaller planes, movement and turbulence will be much more noticeable so try to book in bigger planes
- Choose a seat near the front of the aircraft or beside a wing as you will experience less motion in these areas. A window seat can help as well.
- Watch your consumption of foods, drinks, and alcohol before and during travel. Avoid alcohol and foods that make you feel full. Heavy, spicy, or fat-rich foods may worsen motion sickness in some people.
- Do not read while traveling if you are prone to motion sickness.
- Isolate yourself from others who may be suffering from motion sickness. Hearing others talk about motion sickness or seeing others becoming ill can sometimes make you feel ill yourself.
- Focus the air-vent towards your face. The extra oxygen will help alleviate nausea.
- Having Crackers, Peppermint candy, Ginger Gum, Ginger Ale or Ginger Tea during flight will also help.
- Drink water and juice to stay hydrated during the flight.
Follow these preventive steps and guidelines and you will be able to easily Stop Motion Sickness.