While so many people are able to ride in cars without problems, others are affected by serious car sickness. For most, this only occurs on longer road trips or car rides through hilly or bumpy areas. In any case, car sickness can be very unpleasant and a major obstacle for traveling by car. Below, you'll find an explanation for why car sickness occurs and tips for how you can prevent it.
What Causes Car Sickness?
Because the symptom most closely related to motion sickness is nausea, some people mistakenly believe it has something to do with the stomach. On the contrary, car sickness actually starts with a simple disturbance in the inner ear. It begins as the body begins to recognize that it is moving in a forward motion, which occurs almost as soon as the car starts down the road. At this point, the inner ear begins sending signals to the brain, which don't match up with other signals it is receiving. While the eye, muscle and skin receptors send signals to your brain that you are sitting still, your inner ears are sending signals that your body is moving forward. This imbalance confuses the brain and causes the many unpleasant symptoms associated with car sickness. As the car moves faster, goes up and down hills, travels around curves or does any other unusual motion, the more your equilibrium can be thrown off by these signals and the worse that your car sickness may get.
Symptoms of Car Sickness
Car sickness comes with a variety of tell-tale symptoms. If you begin to feel any of the following symptoms while traveling by car, you are likely experiencing this particular type of motion sickness:
- Feeling nauseous
- Sudden urge to vomit
- Dizzy spells
- Excessive sweating
Car Sickness Remedies
There are a variety of car sickness solutions available today. One of the best remedies for car sickness is to prevent it before it starts, so many of the suggestions below can be started before you even get on the road. Also, remember that not every remedy here works for everyone who suffers from motion sickness, so try different solutions if you still feel the symptoms while traveling.
- Positioning: One of the most effective ways to treat or prevent car sickness is to change where you sit in the car. Try sitting in the front seat where you'll be able to focus your attention on the road in front of you - this creates a stabilizing effect on your equilibrium. If you begin to feel dizzy or nauseous, try leaning your head on the head rest and looking straight ahead or opening a window. Putting your face infront of an air conditioning vent can also help take your mind off of your nausea.
- Pressure Points: A possible way to alleviate car sickness is by placing pressure on certain strategic areas of the body. For example, there are bands that can be worn on your wrist that are made for those who are prone to motion sickness. Though there are no conclusive studies on the effectiveness of these bands, some people find that they do help.
- Eat Right: Avoid greasy or spicy food that could worsen your car sickness since these foods are more likely to upset your stomach to begin with. Also, avoid consuming alcohol at an pitstops during your road trip as this may make your sense of imbalance more pronounced. Instead, eat some crackers or drink ginger ale - this may be able to lessen your nausea and make you feel a little better overall.
- Avoid Certain Activities: Many of the activities that people like to do in the car to pass time, such as reading, looking at a magazine, watching TV or playing video games, can actually make car sickness worse. That's because looking down at a still object like a book can further confuse your senses as to whether you are sitting still or moving. Additionally, people in cars should avoid smoking or riding with smokers, both of which can worsen car sickness symptoms. Finally, take a break if you and other people in the car begin to feel sick at the same time since being around others who are sick can make you feel even worse.
- Over-the-Counter Drugs: Medicines like Dramamine and Bonine are made to help ease the symptoms of all types of motion sickness, including car sickness. If you decide to take these drugs, take them at least 30 to 60 minutes before you hop in the car. Since drowsiness is a side effect, you should not drive while taking this medication.
- Prescription Drugs: If you usually get very severe car sickness and are preparing for a long road trip, consider asking your doctor for a prescription drug for this condition. These medications may be prescribed in either a pill or a patch.
If you have any concerns about motion sickness or are interested in getting prescription medications to prevent this condition, talk to your doctor before traveling.