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Tips for dealing with motion sickness.

Motion sickness happens when the body has an unpleasant physiologic response to motion. The motion can be by ship, boat, air travel, car, train, or even virtual reality. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sweating, excessive salivation, increased sensitivity to odors, loss of appetite, headache, drowsiness, and general discomfort. Any person with a functioning vestibular system (the sensory system that contributes to balance, spatial orientation, and coordinated movements) has the potential of experiencing motion sickness, but some people are more prone to motion sickness than others. Risk factors include:

  • Age: Infants and toddlers are usually immune to motion sickness. Children age 2-12 years are especially susceptible, and adults over the age of 50 are less prone to motion illness.

  • Sex: Women are more likely to have motion sickness, especially women who are pregnant, menstruating, or on hormone replacement therapy.

  • Medications: some prescription medications can make you more prone to motion sickness.

  • Race: Asians are generally more susceptible to motion sickness than Europeans.

  • Migraines: People who suffer from migraine headaches are more likely to suffer from motion sickness.

Prevention can be key in avoiding motion sickness. If you are prone to motion sickness try to avoid situations you know will trigger it, but if you are unable to avoid the situation, there are things that can be done to minimize the symptoms. Try to adjust your position to reduce the motion or your perception of it. Sit in the front seat of the car or over the wing on an airplane. On trains or planes sit in a window seat. Reduce the sensory input of motion by closing your eyes, or looking at the horizon. Stay well hydrated and avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Avoid smoking, which can predispose one to motion sickness. Stopping smoking even for a short term can have a positive impact. Try distracting yourself with music, controlled breathing, or even aromatherapy scents like mint or lavender. Many people have been helped by the use of acupressure or magnets to prevent motion sickness.

Sometimes you are simply unable to prevent motion sickness, and may need to use a prescription or over the counter medication to relieve symptoms. Medications are most effective when taken before exposure to motion. Some over the counter medications are Cyclivert, Dramamine, or Antivert. There are also prescription strength medications used to prevent motion sickness. If your trip involves potential exposure to excessive motion, you may be prescribed medication in your pre travel consultation to have on hand if needed. A common side effect of these medications, whether over the counter or prescription is drowsiness. It may be beneficial to try the medication prior to travel to determine whether you experience side effects.

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