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Car Sickness

Car Sickness

If you get carsick, you most likely dread every single extended road trip. Car sickness is just one kind of motion sickness (or kinetosis) that some experience when they’re riding in an automobile. Dizziness, fatigue and nausea might make the trip miserable. So how do you go about preventing car sickness in the first place? Here are some ways to enjoy the ride, sickness-free.

Understand why car sickness happens:

All motion sickness results from your body sensing a discrepancy between what you see (in this case, the inside of a car, which tells your brain that you’re sitting still) and what you feel (your body’s vestibular system, which senses balance from your inner ear, tells your brain that you’re moving). The conflict between what you see and what you feel triggers the production of a neurotransmitter, likely mistaken by your body as a signal of hallucinogenic poisoning, so your body tries to rid itself of whatever is causing the disorienting condition.

Look out the front window:

Watching the scenery can confirm your balance system’s detection of motion and help resolve the mismatch that causes car sickness. Focus on a non-moving object in the distance, such as the horizon. Don’t do anything that involves focusing on a fixed spot, such as reading or playing a card game. Don’t turn around or look from side to side much.

Sit in the front:

Consider driving (if possible). Drivers rarely get car sickness as they are always focused on the road. Sitting in the passenger’s seat up front is the next best thing. Not only will you have more window space to look through, but in some cars, the ride tends to be less bumpy in the front. If driving is not possible or desirable, visualize driving or pretend you are driving. This can often prevent or alleviate nausea.

Close your eyes:

Sleep if you can. If your eyes are closed, you don’t see anything, and that removes the cause of motion sickness. In addition, sleeping will do wonders for taking your mind off of the motion sickness.

Open the window:

Many people find that smelling fresh, cool air helps make them feel better, although the reason behind this isn’t clear. If it is not possible to open the window, lean towards the bottom of the window and breathe. There should be leaks of air. Some people find that certain smells can make them feel worse (such as car air fresheners, perfumes, smoke, and food). Remove the source of the smell if possible, or keep fresh air coming in. If neither is possible, lightly spray a soothing smell like lavender or mint to cover up the other smells. See Tips below.

Take steps to prevent nausea:

Since nausea is the most debilitating symptom of car sickness, it’s always good to take precautionary measures. Ginger root is a classic remedy because of its widely recognized antiemetic (nausea-preventing) effects. Keep in mind, however, that many medications which are normally effective against nausea might not work against nausea caused by motion sickness.

  • Eat a few ginger biscuits before you go, during the journey, and after you arrive.
  • Other good things to try eating are ginger candies (chewable), ginger coated in sugar (if you don’t mind the heat of ginger) or ginger mints.
  • If you are traveling a long distance, you could also consider taking ginger tea in a thermos. Peppermint tea is another good alternative. Cold drinks could include ginger ale or ginger beer.
  • Fresh mint can also cure or alleviate nausea. Buy it in the produce section of the supermarket. It doesn’t have the drowsiness side-effect of over-the-counter nausea medicine. Start by eating 2 leaves and feel free to eat more if you need it.
  • Keep a peppermint candy (or just about any long lasting hard candy) in your mouth. This method will work very well even after feelings of nausea have begun. Do not chew the candy because feelings of nausea may return fairly quickly after the candy is gone. For those whose nausea is worsened by the smell or taste of peppermint, lemon drops may prove helpful.
  • Rubbing alcohol wipes are useful as well for nausea. These are purchased at a medical supply store or in a regular drugstore back by the pharmacy. Tear open a wipe and sniff gently as you pass it past your nose. This works very well
  • Listening to music can help keep your mind off the sickness.

Use medication that prevents car sickness.:

There are over-the-counter and prescription drugs that are effective against car sickness. Look into the side effects before using any of these drugs (especially if you’re driving), and ask your doctor just in case. Some of these are available as patches and can be particularly helpful. Antihistamines can prevent nausea caused by motion sickness by dulling the inner ear’s motion sensors. This medication is able to block the part of the brain that controls nausea and needs to be taken before motion sickness occurs. Antihistamines can make you feel sleepy and affect your ability to operate machinery.

To avoid car sickness or if you want to read, text, or use electronics block the motion outside the car by cupping your hands over your eyes before you feel ill, as motion outside the car is the primary cause of car sickness:

This can also be accomplished with motion sickness eyewear, which blocks motion flashing by outside the car from your field of vision.

Other Tips:

  • Some find that eating chocolate in the morning before taking the trip can make car sickness worse as well.
  • Help prevent car sickness in children by giving them a raised seat where they have a clear view of the outdoors, and play games that encourage them to look outwards. Don’t let them watch movies in the car, as it can trigger car sickness.
  • Don’t concentrate on any writing or anything inside the car for too long as this may cause car sickness.
  • Try to open the window to let fresh air in.
  • Go to sleep. When you wake up you will probably be at your destination.
  • Smell fresh orange peels or lemon peels. The smell of a freshly broken peel helps in keeping the nausea at bay.
  • Stop the car during the journey and walk for a minute or so.
  • Try one of the many brands of wristbands available for motion sickness.
  • If you find map-reading makes you sick, ask the driver to pull over to check a map.
  • Try using travel sickness bands, you wear them around your wrists and they stop from feeling sick.
  • Don’t stick your head downwards against the seat as this triggers sickness.
  • Sometimes heat can make car sickness much worse. Try turning on the AC to cool things a bit. You could also pop something sweet into your mouth, like candy or bubble gum, or sip slowly on a cool soft drink. That could help a lot.
  • Sit in the middle of the seat and look at the road.

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