5 tips to combat motion sickness

1. Choose the right place

If you are traveling on a watercraft and you get seasick, stay closer to the center of the deck – there the rocking is felt the least.

The car has less motion sickness when you’re driving, and backseat passengers have the hardest time. Unfortunately, it is in the back seats that children usually have to sit – and, according to the observations of John Golding, a professor of applied psychology at the University of Westminster, it is children aged 8 to 12 who get sick the most. It also often causes motion sickness in adults with migraines.

If you get seasick in airplanes, try to fly on large ones – in small cabins, the rocking is felt more strongly.

2. Look to the horizon

The best explanation for motion sickness is sensory conflict theory, which is about the discrepancy between what your eyes see and the movement information your inner ear receives. “To avoid motion sickness, look around or at the horizon,” Golding advises.

Louise Murdin, audio-vestibular medicine consultant for the Guy and St. Thomas NHS Foundation, advises not to read or look at your phone while on the road, and try to keep your head still. It is also better to refrain from talking, since in the process of speaking we almost always move our heads imperceptibly. But listening to music can be beneficial.

Nicotine tends to exacerbate the symptoms of motion sickness, as does food and alcohol consumed before travel.

3. Use medication

Over-the-counter medications containing hyoscine and antihistamines can help prevent motion sickness, but they can cause blurred vision and drowsiness. 

The substance cinnarizine, found in other motion sickness medications, has fewer side effects. This medicine should be taken approximately two hours before the trip. If you are already feeling unwell, pills will not help you. “The cause is stomach stasis: your body will stop the contents of the stomach from moving further into the intestines, which means the drugs won’t be absorbed properly,” Golding explains.

As for bracelets that purportedly prevent motion sickness with acupressure, research has found no evidence of their effectiveness.

4. Control your breathing

“Breath control is about half as effective in controlling motion sickness as drugs,” Golding says. Breath control helps prevent vomiting. “The gag reflex and breathing are incompatible; by concentrating on your breathing, you prevent the gag impulse.”

5. Addiction

According to Murdin, the most effective long-term strategy is addiction. To gradually get used to it, stop briefly when you feel bad on the road, and then continue on your way. Repeat, gradually increasing the travel time. This helps the brain get used to the signals and begin to perceive them differently. This technique is used by the military, but for the average person it can be more difficult.

Golding also warns that habituation may depend on the specific situation: “Even if you are used to sitting in the back seat of a car and you no longer get motion sickness there, this does not guarantee that you will not get seasickness on the water.”

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