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How to deal with motion sickness?

How to deal with motion sickness? One in ten French people is ill when traveling by car, coach, boat or plane, according to Dr Véronique Warnod, author of the Traveller's Medical and Health Guide. Our advice to avoid it.

Motion sickness, called motion sickness by physicians, is a mild but unpleasant disorder. It results from the discrepancy between the position of the body in space and the information transmitted by the balance receptors:the eyes, the inner ear and the muscles.

The brain receives conflicting signals because the body is static but the vehicle is moving. Disoriented, he sends confused orders, generating nausea and dizziness.


Motion sickness is favoured by the presence of significant eddies:hairpin bends, air pockets, rough seas... And as Dr Véronique Warnod, author of Le medical-health guide for travelers* , "it is amplified by anxiety, fatigue and unpleasant odors (tobacco, exhaust fumes, oil…)".

Before it really sets in and is accompanied by vomiting, it is signaled by various symptoms that can be identified:smeared stomach, migraine, pallor and onset of drowsiness. To prevent the situation from escalating, take a break if possible. Take some fresh air, walk a few steps then lie down to calm things down.

What precautions before the trip?

People prone to motion sickness should not leave on an empty stomach, otherwise nausea will be exacerbated. To travel peacefully, it is indeed better to eat a light meal, favoring solid foods , and non-liquids which rise more quickly.

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"Antihistamine drugs (non-prescription, in pharmacies) are "effective in preventing nausea , but they can cause drowsiness, says Dr. Warnod. And they are prohibited if you are driving". Take them about an hour before departure, then if necessary during the trip, respecting an interval of at least six hours between doses.

If not, you can try scopolamine patches (antiemetic, reserved for adults) or homeopathic granules (Cocculine).

Anti-vomiting tricks

When the discomfort is announced, bet on ginger. The ability of this spice to curb nausea has indeed been scientifically demonstrated. The World Health Organization (WHO) also recognizes the effectiveness of gingerol, one of its main active ingredients, in calming gagging induced by pregnancy or motion sickness. You can chew a small slice of fresh ginger or a piece of ginger gum (Sea-Band). Their effect is fast:20 to 30 minutes.

Peppermint and lemon essential oils, which relax and soothe stomach contractions, are also indicated. Put a drop on a tissue and breathe slowly until the nausea subsides.

On the other hand, the effectiveness of acupressure bracelets has never been proven. But their simple presence around the wrist can reduce stress and thus reduce discomfort.

Good gestures to anticipate motion-sickness

By plane and boat, choose the middle seats , insofar as the rolling movements are less there than on the sides.

In a car or coach, opt for a seat in the front of the vehicle . Secure your head on the backrest (or with a neck strap) to avoid rocking. Don't read, but don't close your eyes either . Instead, stare at the horizon or a stable point outside the cockpit like aerobatic pilots do.

Since the queasyness escalates with the anxiety, create a diversion by singing or talking along the way.

(*) The traveller's medical-health guide , Dr. Véronique Warnod, Ed. The Cherche Midi.

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