Don't Let Travel Make You Sick

If you suffer from motion sickness, blame your inner ear, not your stomach.

Motion sickness is a problem that occurs when the brain receives conflicting messages from the eyes and the inner ear about whether or not you are in motion, reports The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

The inner ear is responsible for balance, and it senses motion when you are riding along in a car. But if you are looking at something stationary like the floor of the car or a book or a game in your lap, your eyes are telling your brain that you're sitting still. That mixed message results in the nausea or motion sickness. The same thing can also occur with air or water travel.

There are some prevention techniques that can help you to avoid motion sickness:

  • Try to keep your head still with a good forward view, focus on the horizon
  • Don't read or play games or do anything that takes your eyes off the road.
  • Try to get plenty of fresh air
  • Don't travel on a very full or an empty stomach.

Generally avoid heavy foods like cheeses or meats, and avoid alcohol and smoke, too. Bring plenty of water and light starchy snacks for the trip.

It's important for children to be able to see out the window, and if they're in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat, that may difficult. It's tough enough keeping kids occupied on long road trips, but try to engage them in activities that require looking out the window, like I-spy, for example, rather than looking down at a hand-held video game or a book.

If you have the option of driving instead of being a passenger it can help take your mind off the nausea. If you know you're prone to motion sickness, a drug like dramamine can help when taken beforehand. Ginger root also has stomach-settling properties. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe something stronger if the problem is severe and persistent.

What to do if someone is starting to feel carsick:

It's a good idea to pull over and get out and walk around, get some fresh air and try to feel better before moving on. If you can nip it in the bud, you'll be much better off than if you push onward and the feeling gets worse to the point of vomiting. It's always a good idea to bring along a sick bag or leak-proof container for lengthy road trips, just in case nothing works.