I’ll never forget the first time I was sea sick. It was on a ferry from the little town of 1770 to Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Until that day, I thought motion sickness was all in the mind. People who got sea sick brought it on themselves by worrying too much about it, nothing for me to worry about. Well 2 hours of rocking and rolling on the Pacific Ocean certainly changed that point of view! There’s no need to go into depth about what happened over those 2 hours, but let’s just say I’ve never felt such dread and such hopelessness as I did on that boat ride, as my stomach twisted and turned like a cement mixer. The worst part was the inability to escape the environment that was causing this utter grief. I was stuck on that boat and there was no way off it.
Finally we arrived at our snorkeling destination and I plunged into the ocean as quick as I could which quelled the churning in my stomach. Apprehensive about the journey home, I asked one of the crew if they had anything to help me. They smiled and handed me some ginger tablets which to my great relief, eased the queeze on the trip back to the mainland.
Whilst any kind of motion sickness can be one of the worst feelings you can imagine, luckily my trusty crew members showed me on that fateful day that there are remedies that can help combat this scourge of all travel.
Why can motion make us sick?
The reason why we sometimes get sick with motion is because our brains are receiving conflicting information from our body, eyes and inner ear. We may be on a boat and our inner ear can detect a rolling motion but our eyes can’t see it so our brain is confused. This can cause us to feel nauseous, sleepy, get a headache, make our skin go pale or give us cold sweats.
So how can we stop it from happening???
Luckily, there are several techniques we can use to help the brain be less confused by conflicting signals from the eyes and inner ear. There are also many other remedies that will help make motion sickness a thing of the past.
Before the trip
Before you even get on that boat, or go on that drive through windy roads, there are a few things to do/avoid that can help prevent feeling sick in the first place.
Watch what you eat
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and big, heavy or spicy meals before the trip. You want your stomach feeling as settled as possible. A nice light breakfast is perfect, so save the bacon and eggs for your return.
Drink plenty of water
Instead of a big breakfast and copious amounts of coffee, drink water instead. Water solves all.
Buy something to chew on
Something as simple as chewing can help ease mild car sickness. Chewing gum has an uncanny effectiveness for reducing car sickness in those affected. But it’s not just gum, chewing anything can help as it seems to reduce the conflict between vision and balance. So grab some lozenges, some lights snacks and chew like a water buffalo in a lush paddock!
The hero that saved me from my dreaded first encounter with motion sickness. Ginger in all forms has been found to reduce motion sickness. It can be taken in tablet form, drank as a tea, or even munched on as a raw ginger root. There is some debate over whether it is the chewing or the actual ginger that helps. Old wives tale or not, it worked a treat for me.
See your doctor
If you have had a problem with motion sickness in the past, there are certain medications that can be taken to help ease the queeze. I prefer to avoid prescribed medications as most of them have the side effect of drowsiness, but if you have suffered badly in the past, this may be your best port of call.
Over the counter medication
You can also buy over the counter medication that can help with motion sickness. Again, these are my last resort as the main side effect is drowsiness but it doesn’t hurt to have a few with you in case the other techniques aren’t helping.
Wear a wrist band
Come again, a wrist band you say? Yes, that’s right. There’s wrist bands on the market that exert pressure on the P6, or Nei-Kuan, acupressure point which is said to relieve nausea and vomiting. Scientifically, the jury is still out on these but some some people swear by them and hey, they are safe, cheap and have no side effects so why not give them a go.
When you’re moving
So you’ve had a light breakfast, stocked up on your ginger tablets, and are wearing a silly wrist band. Now the moment of truth has come, it’s time to get on that boat or go for that drive. Fear not, there are plenty of things you can do whilst moving that can also help you feel at ease.
Choose your position
Remember why we get motion sickness? It’s because our inner ear and eyes are sending different things to the brain which confuses it and makes us feel terrible. So in order to make them send more similar messages, we want them to be experiencing the same thing. Choosing a position where the eyes can see the same motion that the body and inner ear is feeling will go a long way to keeping the stomach in tact.
For example, if you’re in a car or bus, sit as close as you can to the front so you can see where the vehicle is going. Better still, take the wheel and drive!
If you’re on a boat go up on the deck and watch the motion of the horizon.
On a plane, sit at a window seat and look outside.
You get the idea.
It’s also best to choose a spot where the motion is at it’s least. In a plane that’s over the wing, in a boat it is somewhere near the middle.
Oh, and try and choose a seat that is facing forward.
Watch the horizon
Just in case you missed the point just made. Keep your eyes looking off to the distance and gaze toward the horizon in the direction of travel. This helps to re-orient the inner sense of balance by providing a visual reaffirmation of motion.
Cool down and get some fresh air
Wind your window down, head out onto the deck of the boat to get some fresh air or open the vent above your seat on the plane. Overheating adds to your motion sickness so take off some layers and try and face into the breeze.
Leave your book at home
Don’t even think about reading anything whilst you’re moving as this will focus your vision on a single point and the old inner ear and eyes will confuse the brain again. This also goes for staring at your phone for too long or the seat in front of you, another couple of big no nos.
Leave your sympathy behind too
One sure fire way to get sick is to be near someone who is sick. As much as you might want to help them, watching them, talking to them or listening to them vomit will inevitably lead to you feel the same way. So leave them be and find your own space, it’s every man/woman for themselves.
Take a nap
If you can, lie down, close your eyes and even take a nap. This can help resolve the input conflict between the eyes and the inner ear. And you get to have a nap too, we all love naps!
So there you have it, a few tips and techniques to help ease the queeze of motion sickness. So have no fear and go ahead and book that treacherous bus trip through the Himalaya, that Antarctic cruise you’ve been dreaming of, or that scenic flight over the Bungle Bungles. You’ve got this motion sickness thing beaten!
Adam – IO Guide
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