Overcoming Motion Sickness

The idea of traveling can be a negative one if you are someone who is affected by motion sickness, even if the effects are not extremely severe. Whether it is traveling by car, train, airplane, or boat, for some people, motion sickness can suddenly and easily kick in. Fortunately, however, there are many tips that one can implement to overcome motion sickness, both medically and non-medically.

It is suggested that one tries out the non-medical remedies before taking medication, which should be done only for severe motion sickness. A common tip is to be careful of what one consumes before a trip-- foods that are heavy, spicy, rich in fats, or have strong odors are generally suggested as foods to avoid. In addition, excessive alcohol and smoking are also not recommended for traveling. On the other hand, consuming ginger, water and clear beverages, crackers, toast, bananas, and applesauce are recommended for combating nausea. Waiting to eat something delicious after traveling instead of before may be a better decision to make! However, one should not travel on a completely empty stomach either. A 2004 study from Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics showed that a light meal with protein reduces the effects of motion sickness.

Other suggestions are based on the specific situation one is in. For example, some find that they do not suffer from motion sickness if they are driving the car. Rather, they experience it when they are in the passenger seat. If one is sitting in a train, it may help to pick a seat that faces the forward direction instead of one that faces the back of the train, or a seat that is closer to the front than the rear, which tends to be bumpier. If one is on a ship, it may also help to move closer to the front. A change in position, if possible, may be helpful-- some find lying down to be better, while others find standing up to be better. If possible, fresh air may help with the motion sickness, but if not, fans and air vents may provide the same assistance. Other sources of motion sickness symptoms include reading, watching movies, or playing games on a smartphone. This is due to the sensory disconnection that forms between the eyes and the inner ear, as our eyes do not perceive movement but the inner ear does. An alternative option would be to listen to an audiobook or to music.

A remedy that may help makes use of the acupuncture pressure P6 (nei guan), which is located three fingers below the wrist of the inner forearm. It should be found in the depression between the two wrist tendons, and by applying firm pressure for four to five seconds, it may help alleviate nausea and dizziness. There are wrist bands that one can wear, which has the same purpose of applying pressure on this pressure point. There have been studies performed to study the role of P6 in alleviating nausea and dizziness for both pregnant women and post-operative patients (Werntoft, E. et al. Werntoft E, Dykes AK. Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A randomized, placebo-controlled, pilot study. J Reprod Med. 2001;  Nunley, C. et al. The effects of stimulation of acupressure point p6 on postoperative nausea and vomiting: a review of literature. Perianesth Nurs. 2008.)

If natural and non-medical remedies fail, one may turn to medicine for motion sickness. Common brands include Bonine, Antivert, Meni-D, and Antrizine. Depending on the medication, it can be taken before traveling to prevent motion sickness. However, like many other types of medicines, it does not come without side effects and so it should be taken with caution. Side effects such as drowsiness and tiredness are extremely common for these anti-motion sickness medications.

There are many options that one can take to overcome motion sickness, and if it is not completely overcome, it can at least be alleviated. Motion sickness should not be a reason to dread traveling or to not travel long distances, especially when there are many available remedies. It comes down to finding the most effective method, which is on an individual level. Hopefully, traveling can become enjoyable again!







Stephanie Chan