Travel Sickness

Travel sickness or motion sickness occurs when there is a confusion in the brain about motion signals and vision. Travel sickness tablets or patches work by preventing this or dampening the effects if taken after onset of symptoms. Prome

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What is travel sickness?

Travel sickness, or motion sickness, refers to the nausea or sickness experienced when travelling by car, train, boat, or train.

What causes travel sickness?

Travel sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting information from the body. The vestibular system, or inner-ear canals, are responsible for balance and detecting changes in the body’s position. While travelling, the eyes can easily be fooled into thinking the body is stationary, by following the movement of other objects, reading, or using electronic devices. Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives confused messages from the eyes and the vestibular system, leading to symptoms such as queasiness and cold sweats, to dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

Who is most likely to experience travel sickness?

Anyone can experience travel sickness, with some experiencing more severe symptoms than others. However, travel sickness is more common in children, pregnant women, and people who are taking certain medications.

Are sea-sickness and car-sickness the same?

Sea-sickness and car-sickness are both forms of motion sickness, caused by the eyes telling the brain that the body is stationary while the vestibular system detects motion.

Treatment

Travel sickness treatment options

Most travel sickness treatments should be taken in advance of travel to prevent symptoms from occurring. This includes oral medications like Avomine and Kwells, and transdermal patches like Scopoderm. While Kwells tablets work best if taken 30 minutes before travel, they can also be taken when you feel nausea coming on. Like Kwells, Scopoderm patches contain an antimuscarinics, and are applied to the skin before a journey. They are a good option for anyone who struggles to swallow tablets, and tend to have less side effects. Acupressure bands are a drug-free option, and work by applying pressure on the inside of the wrist, which is thought to reduce nausea. Like patches, these are less likely to cause side effects such as drowsiness.

Best non-drowsy travel sickness remedies

People react differently to different remedies, and not everyone will experience drowsiness. However, drowsiness is a common side effects of antihistamines, like Avomine, and antimuscarinics, like Kwells. If you find acupressure bands to be effective, these can be a good non-drowsy alternative. Alternatively, Scopoderm patches contain the same active ingredient at Kwells tablets, but carry less risk of side effects and are unlikely to cause drowsiness. They require a prescription, but are a popular choice for preventing motion sickness, particularly where nausemy be stopping you from keeping tablets down. 

Travel sickness tablets vs patches vs acupressure bands

Travel sickness can be treated with tablets such as Avomine an Kwells. Avomine contains an antihistamine, while Kwells contains an antimuscarinic which works but interruptin message sent from the vestibular system to the part of the brain which triggers vomiting. Alternatively, you can try acupressure bands, a drug-free treatment for nausea. These work by exerting pressure on the P6 acupressure point on the inside of the wrist, which is thought to relieve nausea and vomiting. Although their effectiveness may vary, some people prefer acupressure bands as oral treatments can cause drowsiness.

Tips to avoid travel sickness

There are some steps you can take to reduce the impact of travel sickness. Your position in the moving vehicle can make a difference, so try sitting in the front seat of the car or in the middle of a boat where there is less rocking. If you begin to feel unwell, open a window and breathe in some fresh air, and stare at a fixed point on the horizon. Don’t read, watch films, or look at electronic devices if you know this makes you travel sick, and avoid looking at other cars passing by, or waves if you are on the water. Children can be distracted by talking or listening to music, and you can try breaking up the journey with regular breaks when you can take a walk. Avoiding eating heavy or spicy foods before a long journey, and try eating ginger biscuits or tea to settle nausea.

Does ginger help travel sickness?

Ginger is thought to help with travel sickness, particularly if you start taking it before your trip and at regular intervals throughout. You can try drinking ginger tea, eating ginger sweets or biscuits, or taking ginger tablets or capsules.

Can travel sickness be cured?

There is no known cure for travel sickness, although there are plenty of options for treating and preventing it. Many people grow out of motion sickness, or become accustomed to regular travel and experience less severe symptoms.

Q&A

Can I use travel sickness treatments if I am experiencing nausea due to an inner ear problem?

Avomine tablets, which contain an antihistamine, can also be used to treat sickness triggered by other factors, including inner ear problems. For example, Avomine is commonly used to treat sickness from vertigo.

Is there a psychological factor to travel sickness?

There is a psychological element to motion sickness. The part of the brain that triggers sickness due to confused signals from the eyes and the vestibular system, the area postrema, is the same part of the brain that triggers vomiting when poison is detected. If your vestibular system senses motion while your eyes detect none, the brain is tricked into thinking it is hallucinating, a possible response to being poisoned. This is thought to be the reason behind nausea and vomiting while travelling.

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