Is Motion Sickness Preventable?

One of the most debilitating and frustrating illnesses that some people have is motion sickness. Motion sickness can occur in any number of situations, such as on an airplane, in a car, on a boat, or on rides at an amusement park. For some people, motion sickness does not even require actual movement; Some people will experience motion sickness in response to perceived or anticipated movement. Motion sickness typically ends when the motion (or perception of motion) has ended. Fortunately, there may be ways to prevent motion sickness from occurring, or at least control the symptoms of motion sickness.

First, it is important to understand why motion sickness happens. Motion sickness is caused when there is a conflict between the signals sent from the eyes, inner ear, and the rest of the body. Sometimes the conflict is subtle; for example, when one is inside the cabin of a ship, there may be no visual perception of motion, but the inner ear, which controls balance, detects the rocking of the boat. The symptoms of motion sickness can include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, increased salivation, headache, paleness of the skin, and cold sweats.

There are some basic things that a person can do to help avoid motion sickness. A general reduction in stress and anxiety levels will often help with motion sickness. Maintaining proper airflow will often help with odors that add to nausea. Many people have experienced success with distraction techniques (other than reading; reading can make motion sickness worse) that keep their minds occupied and away from motion sickness. Other people find that the use of a head rest or a neck pillow will minimize the movement of the head, and thereby reduce motion sickness. Having light meals and avoiding greasy foods and alcohol prior to travel may help with motion sickness, as will eating foods high in carbohydrates. Making these types of changes at least three days before travel may prevent the onset of motion sickness altogether.

Sometimes people use special wrist bands, which use either pressure or electric methods, that may assist with motion sickness. These items tend to be very popular, as they are not very complex, relatively inexpensive, and do not have the side effects often associated with medications. Advocates of motion sickness wrist bands believe that wearing a wristband may prevent the onset of motion sickness, as well as reduce the symptoms if motion sickness has already begun.

Some people who experience motion sickness have had success with the use of herbs. The most effective of these seems to be ginger, and some clinical trials have even seemed to support its effectiveness. Other herbs used for motion sickness include black horehound (ballotta nigra) and peppermint. The Chinese herbal mixture, Pingandan, is also used. Other people have turned to a variety of other alternative therapies, including acupuncture and massage therapy. Homeopathic remedies have included Borax, Cocculus, Nux Vomica, Petroleum, Sepia, and Tabacum. Using a regular regimen of some of these herbs may help prevent the onset of motion sickness.

While there is no cure-all for motion sickness, many people have been successful at preventing motion sickness through these methods.