Coping with Motion Sickness

For many travelers, motion sickness and vacations go hand in hand.  If you, or your children, suffer from this often-times debilitating illness, read on.  I chatted with Pharmacist, Carolyn Whiskin, to bring you some expert tips:

(1) Is it better to be preventative or reactive when it comes to treating motion sickness?

Carolyn: Just like the common adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the same applies to motion sickness. The incidence of motion sickness can be greatly reduced when using preventative measures before travel. Waiting until the motion sickness hits may take a few hours to get it under control.


(2) How can you treat a young toddler or child that suffers from motion sickness? 

Carolyn: The most studied treatment for young children is dimenhydrinate which is sold as a liquid and suppository. Dosing varies based on the child’s weight. It can cause drowsiness but in some children the opposite can occur. To avoid this potential adverse effect, wrist bands, which work based on acupressure, are available for children. One must be worn on each wrist with the plastic stud on the inside of the band, being placed over the P6 acupressure point (approximately 3 finger widths from the base of the wrist). Homeopathic remedies are also available for the prevention and treatment of motion sickness starting at age two. These are best used starting the day before travel.  Chewable ginger tablets can be used for ages 6 and above.

(3) What causes that sick feeling when traveling?

Carolyn: Motion sickness is a disturbance within the inner ear. A person’s perception as to their position in a certain space may differ from messages of movement that the brain receives. When these messages conflict, a sense of motion sickness can occur.


(4) Best ways to combat road trip motion sickness in children? Adults?

Carolyn: The best way to combat a problem is to plan ahead. Generally, sitting in the front seat of car (while not possible for small children) is helpful in reducing motion sickness as well as looking at scenery in the distance. Driving the vehicle can significantly reduce motion sickness compared to being a passenger. Avoid reading in the car and ensure you are well rested before your trip. Avoiding greasy or acidic foods and being well hydrated with lots of water before and during your journey can help. Dry crackers are good to have on hand to settle the stomach. If motion sickness is highly expected there are several preventive options: applying a disc containing scopolamine behind the ear at least 4 hours before travel is a great option for adults and provides 3 days of protection against motion sickness, taking dimenhydrinate or concentrated ginger tablets an hour before travel is another alternative. Additionally, using wrist bands which provide acupressure to the inner wrist along with  homeopathic options in the form of dissolving tablets and liquid can also be helpful for both adults and children.


(5) Best ways to treat it on a boat? Plane?

Carolyn: The same treatment options apply to boat and train travel as was outlined above. However, in a plane, a window seat  over the front edge of the wing is suggested. Also, direct the air vent to blow cool air on the face. If you have the opportunity to stand it can help when you feel stomach upset. On a ship, cabins in the middle of the ship near the water line have the least motion sickness associated with them. Focusing on the horizon when on deck can also be helpful.

Lastly, It is always important to speak to your pharmacist when preparing for a trip. Not all products may be suitable for you. Always read the label and follow instructions for use.

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