Prevention & Recovery

All about motion sickness

By: Amberly McAteer

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

All about motion sickness

By: Amberly McAteer
This story was originally titled "Motion Sickness" in the July 2009 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Feeling ill is never fun, but being uncontrollably nauseous while in a car, boat or plane can ruin your holiday. People with extrasensitive balance systems easily become queasy and dizzy. Here's what you need to know about motion sickness and how to treat it.

Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can give you quick relief.
Antinausea medications such as Gravol (also called Dramamine) are convenient treatments for symptoms of motion sickness. These drugs work by slowing the signals in your brain that trigger vomiting, says Dr. Ernest Linzon, a family doctor at the Malvern Medical Centre in Toronto, who has treated numerous patients with motion sickness. Linzon cautions, however, that these medications can cause temporary sedation and fatigue, and make it difficult for you to concentrate.

Take Gravol immediately before you travel, and follow the instructions carefully.
"Incorrect use can be toxic and possibly lethal, especially when combined with alcohol or certain drugs," says Linzon.

Gravol now comes in nondrowsy lozenges with added ginger, a natural reliever of nausea and vomiting.

If you experience persistent motion sickness, talk to your doctor about Transderm-V, a prescription waterproof patch that you apply behind your ear three hours before you get on a boat, car, plane or train. The patch may cause drowsiness and constipation, so drink plenty of water before you apply it and while wearing it. Don't use Transderm-V if you have glaucoma or epilepsy.

Acupuncture and other holistic treatments can ease a queasy stomach.
Targeting the pressure point located two thumb-widths up from your inner wrist with acupuncture needles can calm your digestive system, says Glenna Morris, a naturopathic doctor and founder of Balance Naturopathic Health Centre in Halifax.

Morris adds that certain bracelets, available in major drugstores, aim to put pressure on this same point. You can also apply firm, massaging pressure yourself to the spot for three to five minutes. "This is a pressure point that has been directly linked to nausea for hundreds of years," adds Morris. "Applying pressure here has been found to give a lot of relief when it comes to motion sickness."

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What you eat and drink can also prevent motion sickness.
Don't travel on an empty stomach; eat a good breakfast of oats, muesli or wheat germ, says Morris. "They have a lot of vitamin B6, which prevents nausea." Avoid greasy fast foods and acidic drinks, such as orange juice and coffee, which may turn your stomach while you're in motion. Munch on light snacks, such as whole grain crackers, or chew on a piece of fresh or dried ginger at the onset of any symptoms. Sucking on a piece of lemon or lime might also help you feel better.

Morris adds that drinking plenty of water and warm juices, such as apricot or carrot juice, can help settle your stomach. Also, peppermint, ginger and fennel tea may help to alleviate nausea and an upset stomach. "Steep a teaspoon of each in one litre of water and sip on it during the trip," says Morris.
Focusing on a distant object eases motion sickness.

Staring at something stationary in the distance, such as a building, tells your confused brain that you really are in motion, despite what your body feels. In a car, look straight out the front window. On a cruise ship, stay on deck and focus on a boat or island. Don't go inside because you'll remove that visual cue and further confuse your brain. Until the nausea passes, don't close your eyes for an extended period of time.

Mixed Messages
Your brain is constantly receiving information about your balance and movement from your senses and balance monitors, including your inner ear. When you're in a moving vehicle, your eyes tell your brain that you're stationary, but information from your balance monitors says you're moving. Your brain interprets this confusion between what you see and what you feel as a signal to get rid of a foreign invader. The result? An urge to purge the toxin from your system.

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Prevention & Recovery

All about motion sickness