The holidays are right around the corner, and for many of us, that means more time on the road driving to and from the festivities. However, all that driving could mean motion sickness for some.
What causes motion sickness? Everyone has their own internal representation of bodily movement. The brain is constantly receiving information from your eyes, inner ear, and sensory receptors in your joints and muscles. Motion sickness occurs when the brain receives conflicting information, and the body can’t tell how or if you’re moving. All that conflicting sensory input can result in nausea, dizziness, headaches, and vomiting.
While medication can certainly help relieve these unpleasant symptoms, there are other ways to relieve car sickness so you can navigate the holidays happily and healthily.
1. Equalize your sensory cues
If you’re feeling carsick, it helps to equalize the sensory cues around you. You want your inner ear to understand that your body is traveling in the same position. Keep your eyes glued to the horizon or on faraway, slow-moving scenery to help your sensory system realign.
Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth will help relieve headache symptoms and relax the muscles in your jaw and neck that start to feel not-so-nice during a bout of motion sickness.
3. Keep your head up
When you’re feeling car sick, bending down or even tilting your head to the side can make you feel even more nauseated. Combat car sickness by keeping your chin up and facing forward.
4. Irrigate your sinuses
Did you know that congested sinuses could be making your car sickness worse? Sinus congestion can irritate the inner ear and cause feelings of dizziness. Before you get in the car, flush out your sinuses with a neti pot or sinus spray to keep those passages clear and keep dizzy feelings at bay.
5. Sleep it off
One of the best ways to stave off motion sickness is by sleeping through it. However, since leaning your head to the side can make you feel worse, try using a travel pillow to keep your head straight.
6. Get in the driver’s seat
The driver of a car is less likely to get motion sickness than a passenger. That’s because when you’re behind the wheel, you’re in control and can predict the car’s movement. If you must ride as a passenger, try to sit in the passenger seat and keep your eyes on the horizon. If you’re stuck in the backseat, crack a window for some fresh air and additional relief.
7. Watch what you eat
To prevent car sickness, avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, as well as any foods or beverages that will leave you feeling overly full. Additionally, foods that are heavy, spicy, fatty, or have strong odors can also worsen nausea symptoms.
Still, an empty stomach isn’t a good stomach. Drink plenty of water and try to time your meal a few hours before your trip, so you have time to digest. If you start to feel queasy in the car, munch on dry crackers, suck on a lozenge or ginger candy, or sip a light, fizzy drink like ginger ale.
8. Massage your pressure points
Although there’s conflicting evidence whether acupressure provides motion sickness relief, it’s worth a shot, even if it’s a placebo effect.
Acupressure is based on the traditional Chinese medicine practice of acupuncture. It’s believed that applying pressure to certain parts of the body (acupoints) can help relieve muscle tension and improve circulation.
- Locate pressure point P-6 by holding one hand with your palm facing up.
- Place three fingers across your wrist below the wrist crease. The pressure point is located below your index finger.
- Place your thumb below the index finger between the two large tendons.
- Apply firm pressure in a circular motion to this point for 2 to 3 minutes. You may feel a deep, aching sensation, but it shouldn’t feel painful.
9. Eat ginger
It’s not an old wives’ tale: ginger really does help prevent and combat nausea. Whether it’s ginger candy, ginger ale, or ginger tablets, consuming some ginger can curb motion sickness.
10. If all else fails, take medicine
Over-the-counter medication like meclizine can help effectively relieve dizziness and motion sickness, but it causes drowsiness. Alternatively, your doctor can prescribe a scopolamine patch, which is a non-drowsy transdermal patch placed behind the ear. It’s believed to be more effective than over-the-counter options. As always, consult with your doctor before taking any medication.
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