DISCLAIMER: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE.
If you get car sick, you most likely dread every single extended road trip. Car sickness is just one kind of motion sickness (or kinetosis) that some experience when they’re riding in an automobile. Dizziness, fatigue and nausea might make the trip miserable. So how do you go about preventing car sickness in the first place? Here are some ways to enjoy the ride, sickness-free.
Understand why car sickness happens. All motion sickness results from your body sensing a discrepancy between what you see (in this case, the inside of a car, which tells your brain that you’re sitting still) and what you feel (your body’s vestibular system, which senses balance from your inner ear, tells your brain that you’re moving). The conflict between what you see and what you feel triggers the production of a neurotransmitter, likely mistaken by your body as a signal of hallucinogenic poisoning, so your body tries to rid itself of whatever is causing the disorienting condition.
With a few simple steps, you may be able to prevent motion sickness from developing in the first place or help quell your queasiness once it’s begun. Read the next page for helpful home remedies.
- Pick the right seat.
If possible, sit in an area with the smoothest ride, where motion is least likely to be felt in the first place. When making a plane reservation, ask for an aisle seat over a wing. On a train, opt for a car toward the front. Sit in the front seat of an automobile. And on a ship, ask for a cabin toward the center of the vessel.
- Avoid standing.
The last thing you need when you’re trying to keep your stomach settled is to be tossed around during the trip.
- Face forward.
Choose a seat that faces in the direction you are traveling, so that the forward motion your body feels will match what you see.
- Minimize head movements.
Try to avoid sudden movements of your head, which can aggravate motion sickness.
- Stay up.
While you may be tempted to go below when you’re feeling queasy on a boat, stay on deck as much as possible, so your eyes can confirm the movement that your body is feeling.
- Look off into the distance.
Not to daydream, but to focus on a steady point away from the rocky boat, plane, or car. If there isn’t a tree or barn or other specific object in the distance to focus on, stare out at the horizon, where the sky meets the earth (or water). Again, this will allow your eyes to see that you are moving — to match the movement your body feels — without making you dizzy, the way that watching telephone poles or mile markers whizzing by can make you feel.
- Leave your reading at home.
If you read in a car, your eyes stay fixed on a stationery object, yet your body feels the motion of the car — again setting up that sensory contradiction. Instead, focus on the road in front of you or at a distant object so all your senses can confirm that you are on the move.
- Volunteer to drive.
Drivers are so busy watching the road that they’re less apt to get carsick.
- Eat a little or don’t eat at all.
Sometimes eating helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Experiment to see what works for you. About an hour before you leave, eat some plain crackers or a piece of bread or toast. If it makes you feel worse, don’t eat next time — keep your stomach calm and empty, in case you should start to get nauseated.
- Avoid heavy foods and odours.
The smell of spicy or greasy foods and strong odors can prompt motion sickness before or during a trip. So skip the stop at the roadside diner.
- Say no to alcohol. Avoid alcoholic beverages before and during a trip. It can worsen motion sickness.
- Stay calm, cool, and collected.
Sometimes, just the thought of getting sick can make you sick. The same goes for those who are anxious about what they’re about to do, like flying in a plane or riding in a boat. Try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. Take a few deep breaths, and tell yourself that you will not get sick.
- Try over-the-counter remedies.
Antihistamines, such as Dramamine, Bonine, and Marezine, should be taken at least an hour before the trip for maximum effectiveness. Always check the label for warnings and possible side effects, such as drowsiness or blurred vision, and take necessary precautions, such as not driving a car.
- Stay away from others who are sick.
The power of suggestion is very strong, especially if you have a tendency to get a bit “green” yourself. As callous as it may sound, let someone with a sturdier stomach tend to the sick; you should be looking at the horizon or at another steady point in the distance.
These lifestyle adjustments are not the only remedies for motion sickness. In the next section, we’ll tell you about nutritional home remedies for that sick feeling in your stomach.
Tips for preventing or reducing motion sickness
My first line of defense against motion sickness is taking deep breaths. It helps with an upset stomach and reduces dizziness. Breathing slowly and deeply will give me bursts of relief on a short trip and help me relax overall. (It also doubles as a signal to Matt that his driving needs to be more smooth and gentle.)
- Focus your eyes
My motion sickness is exacerbated when I look at things whizzing by me at high speeds. It helps to focus on the road ahead, the horizon, or a stationary object in the distance. Keeping my body still and my head facing forward is important so my brain and inner ear can sync up and aren’t so confused.
- Acupressure wristbands
I discovered these in an attempt to prevent any embarrassment during a car trip with some girlfriends. I was desperate to enjoy the road trip and avoid making a scene with a head-out-the-window-barfing routine. Thank goodness they worked for me! The bands work by applying pressure to the inside of the wrist at the Nei-Kuan point. Stimulation of this acupressure point can reduce nausea. These bands can be purchased online, in drugstores, and some large grocery chains. Better yet, you can try making your own with a large rubber band and small pebble or bead! Just make sure to place it in the correct position.
Although peppermint has never really worked for me, each body is different. You can put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on ahandkerchief and wave it in front of your nose while inhaling. Sucking on peppermint candies or drinking a strong cup of peppermint tea is also effective for some.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Take these easily digestible snacks along and nibble on them every couple of hours to help prevent nausea and vomiting. An empty stomach makes it more likely that you will get sick.
Ginger has long been known as an herbal remedy for queasiness, but modern science has proved this spice has merit, especially for motion sickness. One study discovered that ginger was actually better than over-the-counter motion sickness drugs. Make a ginger tea to take along with you when you’re traveling by cutting 10 to 12 slices of fresh ginger and placing them in a pot with 1 quart water. Boil for ten minutes. Strain out the ginger, and add 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup for sweetening if you like.
Olives may be of some help here, but ginger is far better. It’s traditionally used to treat nausea, but also seems to work quite well against motion sickness.Alternatively, for a quicker but less elegant solution, just take a half teaspoon of the fresh ginger and finely dice it with a knife and swallow it whole. It has worked every time I have had the need for it. It probably is the most consistently effective herbal food that I have seen work nearly every time.
In addition to ginger, the University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests using peppermint and black horehound, which is actually a traditional remedy for motion sickness.
These herbs can be taken as:
Dried extracts in the form of capsules, powders, or teas
Liquid extracts or tinctures
To make a tea using dried herb, put about one teaspoon of the herb into a tea strainer and place it in a cup of hot water. Avoid adding sugar. If you absolutely need some sweetness, try a couple of drops of liquid stevia instead.
Another excellent method that you can do whenever and wherever motion sickness strikes, is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It balances your subtle energy system and calms your motion sensors, and this will calm your symptoms of motion sickness and allow you to finally enjoy the pleasures of travel.
- Low-fat foods.
If you eat a low-fat meal before you head out on your trip, you may avoid getting sick. Eating something before you leave makes your stomach more capable of handling the ups and downs of the road. Experts say not eating destabilizes the stomach’s electrical signals, making you susceptible to nausea and vomiting.
- Peppermint candies or lozenges.
If you start feeling sick, get out the peppermints. Not only will you end up with fresh minty breath when you arrive at your destination, you’ll also calm your queasiness. And if you’re traveling with little ones, try placing 1 drop peppermint oil on their tongues before the trip. It may quash the queasies.
Sip on some warm tea if you start feeling sick. Warm beverages tend to be easier on a nauseated tummy than a tall glass of cold water. Go for the decaf brew; caffeinated drinks aren’t a good idea for unstable stomachs.
Home Remedies From the Freezer
Sucking on some ice chips may help calm your stomach and help divert your attention from your unsettled tummy.
Home Remedies From the Refrigerator
- Apple juice.
Drink a glass of apple juice with your pre-travel low-fat meal. Giving your body a bit of sugar with fluids before you start your journey should help you down the road. And if you start feeling ill, sipping (not gulping) some juice may help you feel better. Almost any non-citrus juice will do. Citrus juice irritates an already unstable stomach.
Whether it’s from a plane, train, or automobile, motion sickness can be crippling to those affected by it. Use the home remedies outlined in this article to help get rid of that queasy feeling before it begins.
PATCH UP THE PROBLEM
Another option for preventing motion sickness is to use a transdermal (skin) patch. Available with a prescription from your doctor, the patch adheres to the skin behind the ear or on the neck or forehead and dispenses small amounts of scopolamine, a drug that suppresses the body’s balancing mechanisms. In order to be effective, however, you must take care to use the patch properly. If you are prescribed patches, the first one must be applied at least 12 hours before departure. Be sure to carefully follow all the directions for use. And do not dispense them to anyone else. Children and the elderly, in particular, are more likely to be sensitive to the medication in the patch and should never use them unless specifically prescribed for them by a physician. Children, for example, can become hyperactive as a result of wearing the patch. And in older adults, the medicine can cause severe confusion.
• Motion Sickness Symptoms Treatment And Remedies by DrTipster.com
• How to Avoid Car Sickness by WikiHow
• 21 Home Remedies for Motion Sickness by Editors of Consumer Guide on How Stuff Works
• Natural Motion Sickness Remedies by DIY Natural
• Motion Sickness by Mercola