Travel sickness, also known as motion sickness occurs when there is a disjoint between visual stimuli and the vestibular apparatus.
Simply put, it is a feeling of illness, especially vomiting, that people get in a moving vehicle. Travel sickness can occur in moving cars, trains, planes and ships. It is terrible for sufferers who may end up vomiting during the entire trip, feeling constantly nauseated and fatigued.
Cause of Travel Sickness
- During a trip, don’t think about getting sick.
- Look to the horizon
- Drugs can be very helpful.
Understanding the cause of travel sickness can help you know how to avoid it. Movement in the peripheral surroundings is sensed by the vestibular system but the eyes which see the stationary interior of the vehicle doesn’t see the movement. The vestibular system has all the organs that maintain balance, the inner ear is mainly responsible for sensing these movements.
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Basically, the inner ears tell the brain that the body is moving and the eye tells the brain that it is stationary. This disparity causes the brain to think you are hallucinating because of poison ingestion and triggers vomiting. There are other causative theories as well.
How to avoid Travel Sickness
If you are in a car or boat, look out the window towards the horizon, this helps align the visual stimuli and resolves the disparity. Fresh air also helps, as air-conditioners and air fresheners can worsen nausea. Try to sit in the front seat of a car, and do not sit opposite direction of the car’s movement.
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The middle seats of a plane tend to experience less turbulence so try to get seats there. When in a boat, stay in the lower level cabins as they have lesser movements than higher cabins.
Do not read or use your phone while travelling as this worsens the visual disjunction. Instead, try listening to music or talking to someone who can take your mind off travel sickness. Anxiety about feeling sick, talking about or listening to talk about motion sickness and even seeing someone being sick, can make you start vomiting, so stay away from such. If possible take a nap, this resolves the conflict between the ears and eyes.
Before your trip, avoid alcohol, spicy foods that and foods that make you uncomfortable as they can predispose you to early onset vomiting. Chewing during a trip helps, so take minty gum or non-oily, salty snacks. Salt on the tongue is known to abate vomiting because it suppresses the vagus nerve, a nerve implicated in travel sickness. Stay away from foods with strong odours as they worsen travel sickness.
Drugs, Patches and Bands
Migraine sufferers and pregnant women are more prone to travel sickness, these people and those who know they suffer from travel sickness should visit a doctor. There are many drugs that are available to suppress the vomiting and nausea. Some of the drugs come in transdermal patches, and others in tablet form to be taken the night before, and morning of the trip. Your doctor will have the best information on the specific drugs suitable for you.
There are acupuncture bands that are available in pharmacies. They work by applying pressure to the Nei Kuan pressure point, which is located on your inner wrist. I can give personal feedback that these bands work, as I have used them multiple times, without combining any drugs, and I was able to travel vomit-free.
Travel sickness can be very troubling for the sufferers and co-passengers but travelling doesn’t have to be tedious, visit your doctor if none of the aforementioned tips work.