Pilots. Astronauts. Cruise Ship Captains. Drivers. Fact is many people worldwide suffer from travel sickness, whether its air-sickness, car-sickness or sea-sickness, no matter what their profession may be or which country they are from. Trick is to prevent travel sickness before it catches you off guard, because if you start experiencing the symptoms covered below, treatment is not going to be effective instantly (in most cases).
Chances are you have either experienced motion sickness yourself or you have seen someone suffering from this condition in front of your eyes…
- 1 What Is Motion Sickness?
- 2 How to Prevent & Treat Travel Sickness Without Medicine
- 2.1 1. Ginger Root is a powerful anti-emetic and can prevent nausea & vomiting
- 2.2 2. Elasticated Wristbands use Acupressure to prevent travel sickness
- 2.3 3. Tamarind & Sour Sweets revive the appetite and help stop nausea
- 2.4 4. Homeopathic Remedies and Essential Oils can provide a drug free way to help curb nausea
- 3 Medications to Prevent Travel Sickness
- 4 Over to you…
What Is Motion Sickness?
…but what exactly is motion sickness and how can you prevent it? If the prevention doesn’t work, how can you treat travel sickness fast and effectively?
Motion sickness is very common, and essentially is a disturbance of the inner ear. It generally is caused by repeated motion as this affects your sense of equilibrium & balance. If your body is experiencing a sensation (i.e. rocking on a boat) which is not syncing with the information your eyes are receiving, this can also trigger the motion sickness sensation.
Generally it is bought on when you are being transported via a vehicle, be it a boat, a plane or a car, rather than when you propel yourself to move (i.e. when you are walking, running or cycling). In other words, when you are being moved (or even when a simulation of you moving is presented to you) it results in a specific set of symptoms.
Additionally, when you initiate movement yourself (for example if you decide to jog around the park), you are not likely to suffer from these symptoms, suggesting that motion sickness is a temporary condition bought on by conveyed movement rather than self-launched actions.
This article outlines the main causes, any symptoms you may experience, top tips on how you can prevent travel sickness & the treatment options available.
What Causes Motion Sickness
Although we have long known how to prevent travel sickness effectively, the causes of motion sickness have still not been precisely pin pointed. One of the most commonly accepted theories suggests that it occurs as a result of disharmony between what we expect to see in relation to what the body actually feels.
Information about movement is received from many sources including the eyes, the structures within the ears (responsible for helping us maintain balance) and receptors in the skin and joints. This allows our brain to store rich information and compare it against existing experiences of movement, enabling the body to carry out every day, routine actions.
When the signals we receive from these sources (eyes, receptors on skin, etc.) do not tally up with what we expect from the movement of the body in that way, it causes motion sickness.
The body comes to the conclusion that there is a sensory conflict with what it thinks it should be experiencing, and will probably continue to experience symptoms until the brain is satisfied that the sensory information is a match with its expectations.
To further explain, a person who is in the drivers seat is less likely to feel car sick even if they normally experience motion sickness if sitting in the back of the car. This could be due to the fact that the driver is able to clearly see the road, receive more sensory information & more accurately predict twists, turns and interruptions in the road.
Similarly, a person standing on the deck of the ship, looking out to sea is less likely to feel sea sick, whereas someone who is in their own cabin is more likely to experience seasickness. This may be because of the fact that the passenger in the cabin is unable to receive a certain aspect of sensory information as they cannot visually sea the view around them, nor can they see the direction or path the ship is taking.
Symptoms of Travel Sickness
When the vomiting centre in the brain receives information from various sources in the body (including the inner structures of the ear), it responds by instigating muscles in the stomach, abdomen and oesophagus, resulting in vomiting.
Hence one of the major symptoms of travel sickness is nausea & vomiting. Most people hate the vomiting, but feel they may be able to deal with it. Others find the nausea is the overwhelming symptom they experience, feeling that it can really ruin a trip.
The heart rate is also increased, resulting in cold sweats and paleness of the skin. All three of these symptoms can precede the nausea and vomiting, so it is important to recognise them for yourself and for those around you so you can act to relieve them upon observing these initial warning signs.
It is also common to feel dizzy or lightheaded,as well as just generally tired, fatigued and drowsy. The good news is that eventually, it may ease up, as your brain stores each of the motor movements in its stores, and begins to normalize what it feels are abnormal experiences over a period of time.
Having said that however, you don’t want to hope and pray that it will go away, or wait till the nausea really hits you to treat travel sickness – at that stage it’s often too late to take conventional medications, they simply won’t be effective. Ideally you want to take steps to prevent travel sickness before it gets an opportunity to ruin your much awaited holiday.
How to Prevent & Treat Travel Sickness Without Medicine
First and foremost, it is essential to understand that the best way to treat motion sickness is to prevent it.
1. Ginger Root is a powerful anti-emetic and can prevent nausea & vomiting
Ginger has long been used to prevent nausea and vomiting, and is now available in tablet/capsule form to make it more convenient to take when you are on the go. Generally 500mg is taken an hour before travel. If you are going to be travelling for a number of hours (or days, if you are on a cruise for example), then you may need to take 500mg every four hours, until the nausea and vomiting subsides.
Children over the age of 2 can also take ginger supplements, but the dose is dependent on their body weight, so it is important to consult on the correct dose with your pharmacist prior to giving them to children.
Additionally, you can also try chewing ginger gum, which can also help to alleviate nausea. they are widely available online or in health food shops and tend to be more convenient than caring bottles of capsules around.
2. Elasticated Wristbands use Acupressure to prevent travel sickness
This may sound a little out there, but bear with me here… many swear by it! Knitted,elasticated wrist bands with a plastic stud that applies continuous mild pressure (unnoticeable) to a certain point on the wrist can help prevent motion sickness quite effectively. The theory is that by pressing on certain acupressure points on each wrist, the incidence of nausea and vomiting is lessened. As it is a drug-free treatment option, it is suitable for both adults and children.
3. Tamarind & Sour Sweets revive the appetite and help stop nausea
I generally recommend raw tamarind, purely because it has not been processed, nothing has been added, so you get the goodness right from the fresh source without any interference. Many Caribbean islands have tamarind balls on sale which are basically tamarind and sugar balls you can suck on to relieve that nauseous feeling and revive your appetite, with no drowsiness as a side effect. Give it a try the next time you are beginning to feel the travel sickness creeping up on you!
4. Homeopathic Remedies and Essential Oils can provide a drug free way to help curb nausea
I think there tends to be a stigma attached with homeopathic treatments, and most don’t consider homeopathic medicine to be a viable option. It might be negatively portrayed as there aren’t many large scale studies to prove the effectiveness of the therapies for common conditions.
This is changing now as more awareness & demand for natural alternatives has begun to prompt more research into homeopathic & natural treatment options.
Although there aren’t many standardised preparations of homeopathic remedies available, those that have tried natural preparations seem to find that they do work extremely well with the bonus of having no side effects.
It is difficult to recommend a dose as homeopathic preparations are sold at various dilutions, forms (leaves, powders, etc.), so it is advisable to visit a Homeopathic Centre so you can be better advised on strengths, preparations & dosages.
Another alternative is to try essential oil based treatments for motion sickness like Quease Ease. It contains ginger, lavender, peppermint & spearmint, all of which work in combination to stem the nausea and prevent vomiting.
You may have come across this before as hospitals sometimes provide or recommend this for postoperative nausea or during chemotherapy.
Both homeopathic and essential oil treatments for travel sickness provide rapid or instant relief and are 100% drug free, non drowsy & give no side effects.
Travel sickness is quite rare in infants, but if your bambino is suffering from sea sickness or any kind of motion sickness, please be aware that over the counter medicines can’t be given to under 2 year olds. Instead, you can opt for anti sickness bands like the ones above or herbal patches which can help relieve nausea.
Medications to Prevent Travel Sickness
Hyoscine has been found to be very effective in managing travel sickness, and is conveniently available in tablet and patch form. It is relatively short acting when taken orally (making it ideal for short journeys), with the dose being 300mcg half an hour prior to travelling for an adult, 150mcg for a 10 year old child or 75mcg for a 4 year old. Doses can be repeated every 6 hours (maximum 3 doses in 24 hours).
The main side effects associated with Hyoscine are similar to those linked to antihistamines (such as Meclizine, Cinnarizine, etc.), and include dry mouth, constipation, temporary inability to urinate completely, and blurred vision.
Antihistamines are not only helpful in treating nausea and vomiting, but they also possess cough suppressant and anti-allergic properties. One of the major side effects of the older antihistamines is that it can cause drowsiness – which could be a good thing if you are on a long journey, and the children are suffering from severe nausea. Sleeping through part of the journey can relax the body and take their minds off the travel.
Medications to Prevent Travel Sickness
Cinnarizine can be taken to prevent travel sickness at the 30mg dose 2 hours before travelling (for adults), causing some level of drowsiness as a side effect. If the nausea or vomiting persists, an additional 15mg can be take on an 8 hourly basis. The dose for children above the age of 5 is half the adult dose but it should not be given to children under the age of 5.
Meclizine is also sold over the counter for travel sickness, and can be given to children as young as 2 years old. The adult dose is 25mg an hour before travelling, and should not be repeated within 24 hours (as this medication is long acting). Children between the ages of 2 to 6 can take 6.25mg daily, and children above the age of 6 can take 12.5mg daily. Although it can cause some sedation, it generally shouldn’t make you too sleepy.
Promethazine is also a long acting antihistamine & can be effectively used for the prevention of motion sickness in both children and adults. 5 to 10 year old’s can take 12.5mg a few hours before travelling (if the journey is short) or the night before (if it’s a long journey). Children over the age of 10 & adults can take double that dose (25mg once daily), but its essential to remember that as these medications are long acting, they remain active in the body for a longer period of time, hence the dose should not be repeated within 24 hours.
A liquid elixir of Promethazine Hydrochloride 5mg/5ml is available for children aged between 2 and 5 years old. As Promethazine causes sedation, it can be useful in providing children with some relief from the nausea during long flights, car journeys or sea travel.
Please note: If you suffer from glaucoma or prostate conditions, then do not take these before consulting with your Doctor!
Over to you…
Have you ever suffered from travel sickness? Perhaps your cruise was ruined by seasickness or the time you went up those winding mountain roads on your last vacation was completely messed up by you feeling car sick? Tell us what worked for you, and how you have managed to treat travel sickness!
Motion sickness is a very common condition that affects many people worldwide. The main cause of travel sickness seems to be a mismatch of information between what your inner ear is experiencing & what your eyes seem to be seeing. Good news is that it is preventable with natural, non drowsy, drug free options, or if these don’t work, then Hyoscine, Meclizine or Promethazine can be taken over the counter.
Conversely, once the nausea begins, the conventional drugs will have limited benefit, so it is still recommended you take essential oil based treatments or anti sickness wrist bands, which can provide more rapid relief.
Avoiding heavy, oily meals and alcohol before & reading during travelling can also help to prevent nausea, and keeping yourself and your mind engaged such as having a conversation with people sitting next to you can also be useful. If you suffer from carsickness, then try to call shotgun and sit at the front so that your eyes can get more information about your route and this will help your brain to link up the extra info with what your inner ears are feeling. Leaving the window open will ensure you get fresh air, which will also help you feel better.
When travelling on a plane, sit close to the wing, where there tends to be less turbulence. Strong perfumes and other potent scents like onions or garlic my also make the nausea worse or trigger it off, so avoiding these will help you manage your motion sickness too!
We would love to hear your experiences and any tips you have to prevent or even treat motion sickness once it begins, so don’t hesitate to leave us a message below! Feel free to share this article with anyone about to go on holiday soon, or you can tweet it so your followers can benefit from these ideas…