Motion sickness: Allianz Global Assistance explains everything you need to know

Why: Motion sickness is a disorder caused by several contradictory pieces of information: visual perception (= the decor around me is moving) versus muscle receptors  (= my body is still) versus the inner ear (= I am motionless but I am moving forward). The brain is torn between these signals and, not being able to analyse them correctly, decides to let you know that something abnormal is happening. 

Symptoms: Symptoms can be more or less intense depending on the individual. They include headaches, dizziness, and feelings of discomfort, cold sweats, nausea and vomiting. Seasickness and carsickness are the most frequent kinds of motion sickness among adults. But they are not the only ones affected. Motion sickness is particularly frequent among children, ages 3 to 12.  

Tips and remedies 

The day before travelling: relax, get enough rest and eat lightly because certain foods can make the discomfort even worse. Avoid eating greasy foods, carbonated drinks and milk. 

The day of departure: there are many different medications for motion sickness and they should be taken half an hour before leaving. Be careful because some may cause drowsiness. If you are planning to drive and you are the driver, you should not take these medications. Be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist for other alternatives. 

Tips to reduce symptoms on the Big Day:  

  • Wear comfortable clothing 
  • Situate yourself between two other people, two bags or two pillows so as to keep your head and body as still as possible. 
  • Do not turn on the heat 
  • Do not have the radio playing
  • Drink water regularly, if possible with sugary drinks like fruit juice. 
  • Do not read, play video games or use your cell phone 
  • Find a still point on the horizon or along the road and stare at it.
  • If you are travelling by car, do not hesitate to ask the driver to drive as smoothly as possible. 
  • If you are travelling by boat or airplane, try to sit somewhere in the middle where there is less movement. 
  • Be sure to get some fresh air now and then: roll down the car windows, stop regularly and take a break, go to the boat’s outside deck, and when flying, sleep as much as possible.  

General advice: Closing your eyes is a good way to reduce feelings of nausea. It’s very important that the traveller avoids stressful situations, which can greatly aggravate the symptoms!

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