Motion sickness (often referred to as travel sickness) is the general term that's given to an unpleasant combination of symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, that can occur when you are travelling.
Not a great way to start a holiday as I remember only too well. I still shudder at the thought of the Dover-Calais ferry...
Who does Travel Sickness affect?
It is thought anyone can potentially get motion sickness, but some of us are more vulnerable than others. Children aged between 3 and 12 years of age often experience motion sickness; after this, most teenagers grow out of it.
What causes Travel Sickness?
Motion sickness is caused by repeated movements when travelling, like going over bumps in a car or moving up and down in a boat.
It is thought to occur when there is a conflict between what your eyes see and what your inner ears (which help with balance) sense. Your brain receives a jumble of contrasting information, which is thought to bring on the symptoms of motion sickness.
How is Travel Sickness treated?
In most cases, symptoms of motion sickness improve as your body adapts to the conditions causing the problem. Several products for children are available from your local pharmacy including brands such as Kwells Kids, Stugeron and Sea Band.
Kwells Kids tablets contain hyoscine. Hyoscine works quickly but its effects only last for a short duration - making it more useful for short journeys of up to 6 hours. Kwells Kids are suitable from 4 years of age; the tablets can be sucked, chewed or swallowed whole. The dose is usually taken 20-30 minutes before travelling to prevent travel sickness occurring.
Stugeron is more suitable for longer journeys as its effect lasts longer. These tablets are suitable from 5 years of age and the dose can be given 2 hours before travel for the prevention of motion sickness. The tablets can also be sucked, chewed or swallowed whole.
Sea Band is an elasticated wrist band, which uses acupressure to help nausea and vomiting in many conditions, including travel sickness. A band is positioned on each wrist before travelling.
It might also be useful to pack something to help rehydrate you after you've been ill. Vomiting causes you to become dehydrated, and Dioralyte or an equivalent product will help you to rehydrate.
It is best to ask your pharmacist’s advice when selecting the most suitable remedy for motion sickness, especially if you have any existing medical conditions or are taking any other medication.
Other practical steps to help prevent Travel Sickness
When travelling by car or bus, it is best to sit in the front when possible, look out the window and focus on distant objects or try to sleep. Rolling down the windows can help keep the car well ventilated.
If you're in a boat, try and sit in the middle (to minimise moving).
Some people find it helpful to close their eyes and breathe slowly, while focusing on their breathing. Try to distract children by talking, listening to music or singing songs.
Some swear by ginger - which you you can take as a tablet, biscuit or tea.
It's best to avoid reading and playing computer games, or watching a screen. Don't look at other objects that are moving - like waves, or passing cars.
Avoid large meals prior to travel - particularly helpful advice should the worst happen! In particular, spicy meals and alcohol should be avoided if you're prone to travel sickness.
And the obvious tip - you should try and avoid certain activities that you know might trigger travel or motion sickness - things like roller coasters, sailing boats, and so on.
The good news - all symptoms of motion sickness usually go away in 4 hours, after stopping the motion.