Travel Sickness
EDP column by Dr Ketan Dhatariya

“Why do I always get travel sickness?”

Travels sickness is a very common occurrence. It occurs when there are small repetitive signals from the balance organs in the inner ear that do not match up with the visual signals that your brain receives. This discrepancy causes the nausea. It is the same as sea sickness, or even if you get nauseated if you sit on spinning rides such as the merry-go-round at the fair. The symptoms include nausea, sweating and vomiting.

The most straightforward solution is to stop the motion that is causing the sickness, but if a journey cannot be stopped then there are a variety of things that can be done to help prevent the nausea coming on. Because travel sickness often occurs in younger children, if they can be seated so that they can look out of the window so that they can see what is going on is often helpful. Looking down at their lap is unhelpful and may make things worse. Asking the driver to keep to a steady speed, keeping rapid braking and decelerating to a minimum also helps. Keep the car well ventilated.

If you get travel sick on a boat, as many do, avoid the food smells, and go for the fresh air. If this is not possible, then go the part of the boat that moves the least – low down in the middle of the boat. This is also true for air travel, ask for a seat over the wings. If you know you are prone to air sickness, ask for a seat near the toilets.

Some people recommend ginger or cardamom to calm the stomach, whilst others have used acupressure. Other simple measures to avoid travel sickness include avoiding a large meal before you travel. If things are very troublesome, then talk to your pharmacist. They may recommend the use of certain drugs that calm the balance mechanisms in the middle ear can be very useful. Ideally, they should be used prophylactically, that is, if you are going to do something that in the past has made you feel ill, then take the tablets a short time before you start your journey to stop the sickness coming on. Taking them once the sickness has started is too late.

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