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First Aid

Motion Sickness

Any type of transportation can cause motion sickness. It can strike suddenly, progressing from a feeling of uneasiness to a cold sweat, dizziness and then vomiting. Motion sickness usually quiets down as soon as the motion stops. The more you travel, the more easily you’ll adjust to being in motion.

You may escape motion sickness by planning ahead. If you’re traveling, reserve seats where motion is felt least:

  • By ship, request a cabin in the front or middle of the ship near the water level.
  • By plane, ask for a seat over the front edge of a wing. Once aboard, direct the air vent flow to your face.
  • By train, take a seat near the front and next to a window. Face forward.
  • By automobile, drive or sit in the front passenger’s seat.

How can motion sickness be prevented?

  • Focus on the horizon or on a distant, stationary object. Don’t read.
  • Keep your head still, while resting against a seat back.
  • Don’t smoke or sit near smokers.
  • Avoid spicy and greasy foods and alcohol. Don’t overeat.
  • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as meclizine (Antivert), or one containing dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), at least 30 to 60 minutes before you travel. Expect drowsiness as a side effect.
  • Consider scopolamine (Transderm Scop), available in a prescription adhesive patch. Several hours before you plan to travel, apply the patch behind your ear for 72-hour protection. Talk to your doctor before using the medication if you have health problems, such as asthma, glaucoma or urine retention.
  • Eat dry crackers or drink a carbonated beverage to help settle your stomach if you become ill.

What is the treatment for motion sickness?

There are several medicines available which can reduce, or prevent, symptoms of motion sickness. You can buy them from pharmacies or get them on prescription. They work by interfering with the nerve signals described above. Although they are best taken before the journey, they still may help even if you take them after symptoms have begun.

Some medicines used for motion sickness may cause drowsiness. It is advisable not to drive or operate heavy machinery if you have taken them. In addition, some medicines may interfere with alcohol or other medication; your doctor or the pharmacist can advise you about this.

Hyoscine

Hyscine is the best effective medicine for motion sickness. It works by preventing the confusing nerve messages going to your brain.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines can also be useful, although they are not quite as effective as hyoscine.

Alternative treatments

These can be useful and also used with medicines if required:

  • One technique that has been shown to work in a clinical trial is to breathe deeply and slowly and, while focusing on your breathing, listen to music.
  • Ginger can improve motion sickness in some people. It can be eaten in a biscuit or as crystallised ginger, drunk as tea or taken as tablets before a journey.

 

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