Vertigo, mal de mer, carsickness, seasickness, airsickness, motion sickness: whatever the name, feeling dizzy and nauseous is a classic vacation ailment.
Travel by land, air or sea are the most common aggravators of motion sickness. This past week my family and I combated all three: a two-and-a-half hour plane ride, a one-hour car ride and three days on a boat. Luckily, we managed not to let motion sickness get the best of us.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, motion sickness occurs when the body, inner ear, and eyes send conflicting signals to the brain. In other words, the eyes don’t see any movement, and the body doesn’t feel movement, but the fluids of the inner ear are moving. This conflict can cause not only dizziness and nausea but also symptoms such as cold sweats, headaches and fatigue.
The best cure for motion sickness is prevention. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends simple actions to prevent the onset of motion sickness. One of the most powerful is to coordinate the feeling of movement between your eyes, body and inner ear.
The best way to do this is to look straight ahead at the horizon. The Medical Center also recommends getting as much fresh air as possible—open windows or turn the air vents toward your face. Ask travel companions not to smoke and rest your head where it can remain still (such as leaning it against the seat back).
Food can also play a large part in aggravating or quelling motion sickness. Avoid large, greasy or spicy meals before and while traveling. The Medical Center suggests eating small meals frequently and drinking plenty of water. They suggest avoiding salt, but I’ve always found that salted pretzels help ease my nausea.
They also suggest avoiding dairy prior to travel, but some people I know successfully quell nausea by eating ice cream or drinking milk. Eat what makes you feel better, but eat it slowly and frequently, and avoid anything you know will aggravate your digestion or that will sit in heavily your stomach.
Other preventive measures involve reserving a space that will allow you to view the horizon and receive plenty of fresh air. This means taking the window seat on a plane, sitting in the front seat (or rear middle seat) of a car, and choosing a cabin with a window on a boat.
For best stability choose airline seats near the front of the plane or over the wing, and cabins in the middle or front of the boat and on the highest possible deck. On a recent cruise, I found the extra money spent on a balcony room that gave me plenty of fresh air was well worth the absence of motion sickness.
Acupressure can also help alleviate nausea, either as a preventative measure or after the onset of symptoms. The University of Maryland Medical Center describes the acupuncture point called pericardium six as being located on the inside of the wrist, approximately two fingernails up the arm from the center of the wrist crease.
Apply pressure to this point to relieve symptoms of nausea. From personal experience, finding the correct spot is easy, since my symptoms lessen immediately once I’ve pressed it.
Purchasing an over the counter acupressure wristband, such as “Sea-Bands” can be helpful. Although I didn’t need them on our recent cruise, I wore them constantly to successfully combat the nausea of pregnancy—especially when in the car.