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Do you or your kids struggle with car sickness? These tips may help.
Whether you plan to hit the road for a vacation or during the holidays, dealing with motion and car sickness is not fun for anyone. Not fun for the person who has it and not fun for others in the car with them.
My daughter used to get car sick every time we would hit the road in the van we owned at the time. It was a conversion van that was quite nice. Even had the couch that could fold down into a bed.
Usually my older daughter would take the back of the van and my younger daughter would be in the middle. All was well as long as they did not touch each other. You know how that goes. “Mom! She’s touching me!!!”
But the worst part of our trips was when my younger daughter would get car sick. We did everything we could to help her feel better.
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I would feel so bad for her. When she was younger, it was not an issue. It seemed to start around kindergarten.
Reading up on the symptoms of motion sickness and how to treat them, I found a post that advised to have the person experiencing the symptoms move into the front passenger seat if they were not already there.
We did that. We moved Jess into my seat in the front of the van and I moved into the back. Well guess what happened?
You got it. She was better, but I got car sick symptoms as well. How could that be?
Luckily as an adult experiencing the same issues my poor daughter was brought it all home. I was able to figure it out. In the van, we had a TV mounted above the front seats.
Back then almost all car trips over about an hour or so, the girls would pop in a video. The video would be playing one direction as you were watching it, but here’s where it went wrong.
Having the window to my left with sights going by and watching the TV going in another direction triggered the same thing in me.
For all future car rides, if the girls were planning on watching any type of video, the blinds to the side windows were closed. That simple thing of closing the blinds and not seeing out the side window, fixed the problem especially on long journeys.
Pregnant women can also suffer from motion or car sickness. We are used to hearing about morning sickness, but if you suffered from car sickness in the past, you are more likely to have it during pregnancy as well.
Many contribute the motion sickness to high level of hormones in a woman’s body during pregnancy. But other causes can be due to parts of the inner ear recognizing movement the eye isn’t seeing as well as other medical conditions a pregnant mom may be dealing with.
Our issue was resolved as the kids grew older. It seems children after 10 to 13 years of age may outgrow it while other kids begin to have motion sickness at that age.
In my case, the simple change above helped, and my kids were okay. But what do you do if that doesn’t fix the problem besides always have plastic bags in the car or eliminating all road trips?
Let’s start with what causes car sickness.
What causes motion and car sickness?
As we found out first hand, one of the main causes of motion sickness of any kind from an amusement park ride to sea sickness to car sickness is your eyes seeing something different from your body feels.
The vestibular system is part of the inner ear. When this system is disturbed, it can directly cause car sickness as well as inner ear infections.
In a car, when your eyes see the world go by out your window while your body is not moving may also cause the vestibular system to get out of whack.
That in turn, causes sensory conflict that results in cold sweats, dry mouth, nausea which are the main symptoms of motion sickness.
But it can also cause vomiting, headaches and dizziness. Definitely not fun for anyone.
Dehydration, acidic foods, history of migraine headaches can all contribute to motion sickness. Add in vomiting and chances of dehydration increase which is why it is so important to monitor water level to stay hydrated.
For my daughter and later myself, watching TV while the sights out the window were flying by caused both of us severe motion sickness.
The good news, is simply first switching seats then closing the blinds eliminated that issue for us. But what if that doesn’t work for you?
Prevention of Motion Sickness.
The best treatment is to prevent it if possible. How can you prevent car sickness?
The best way to motion sickness is to try to eliminate what causes it. For young children, if it is caused as I wrote above, it’s a good idea to put them in the front seat IF they are old enough to be there.
Many experts warn not until the age of 13 should a child be in the front seat. The reason is the airbags, if deployed, protect people that are at least five feet tall.
If your child is younger than the recommended age and/or not as tall as recommended, it is best they sit in the back seat.
Face forward and look out the front window. Turn off any videos, put down the phone and any book you may be reading.
Look at a fixed point outside the car or inside the moving vehicle. Do not look at the scenery through your side windows.
(Note: I found this also worked for me on those spinny rides at the themes parks. I would look at the floor between my feet.)
Next, open the windows and allow fresh air into the vehicle. Stuffy, enclosed spaces like a car can contribute to motion sickness.
Winding down the windows allows fresh air to circulate inside the car. Turn the air vents to allow fresh air to blow toward the face if possible.
Pay attention to what is eaten before any road trip including short trips. Avoid heavy meals and choose a light meal with bland foods like plain crackers. Also avoiding spicy foods before you travel may help.
Many folks swear by ginger ale and other fizzy drinks. Peppermint candy or peppermint essential oil may also help.
Natural remedies include:
- Massaging pressure points on the inside of your wrists. The effectiveness of acupressure point massage is not completely known but worth a try. Be sure to contact a reputable acupressure practitioner versed in traditional Chinese medicine and acupressure treatments. Another option if you do not want to schedule a visit with a professional is to give acupressure wristbands a try.
- Aromatherapy using essential oils.
- Herbs like ginger root or chamomile may calm not only travel induced nausea but postoperative nausea as well.
- Try licorice root. Licorice root is used to soothe stomach irritation and may work for those that experience motion sickness.
- Deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing (breathing from the diaphragm) may also help alleviate a variety of conditions during car travel such as anxiety.
Common treatments for motion and car sickness
If car sickness is severe, the best thing you can do is to discuss all the motion sickness symptoms with your healthcare provider. They may be able to provide you with different prescription medications to try to find what works for you.
Scopolamine is a prescription medication under brand names Transderm Scop, Scopace, Maldemar or scopolamine patch or pill.
Common side effects include dry mouth, but children, pregnant women and those with compromised systems must be careful as they can also be lethal.
Your primary care doctor can determine which of these medications may be best for you.
Alternative Therapies for Motion And Car Sickness
Prefer to take a more holistic approach? Me too. These alternative treatments may work for you:
- Acupressure bands. People have been wearing acupressure bands for centuries. There are very few side effects, and they may eliminate nausea and the urge to vomit.
- Biofeedback therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. These treatments work on controlling your thoughts and learning how to respond to early warning symptoms of travel sickness.
If at anytime, symptoms become worse, it’s critical to schedule a visit to your medical provider.
Do you also get sick when you fly? Read this article next: Foods You Never Eat On An Airplane
This article should not be considered medical advice. Please contact your medical provider to discuss how to help ease the symptoms including nausea the main symptom of motion sickness.
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Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH. Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise