If you have ever suffered with motion sickness, you’ll be familiar with that queasy feeling in your stomach, the dizziness, and the vomiting – it can be very unpleasant to experience!
Usually, our sense of balance is determined by sensory information passed to the brain via our skin, muscles, eyes, and by the fluid found in cavities inside our ears. As we move around, stand up, sit down, lie down etc., these changes are detected by sensors and transmitted to the brain. The brain then interprets these signals and makes sense of our direction and position, which in turn allows us to feel balanced.
It’s not exactly clear what causes motion sickness, although there is a tendency for it to run in families, which suggests a genetic predisposition. Many experts believe that travelling in a vehicle – particularly one that experiences extreme movements, such as the up-and-down of a boat on rough seas, or a plane in turbulence – can, in some people, create confusion among all the signals being received from our sensory organs. In other words, the ears, eyes, muscles and skin all give conflicting information to the brain, and it doesn’t know how to interpret these, so it gets confused and makes you feel ill instead!
Here are some of the simplest ways to prevent motion sickness – got to be worth a try!
1. Choose your seat carefully
Many people find that they feel ill when sitting with their back to the direction of motion. When travelling on a train, bus or other mode of transport where you can choose your seating direction, try facing forwards. Another tip is to choose the least bumpy seat – seats at the back or on the top deck are most likely to sway and bounce, so sit near the front instead. Avoid seats located above the wheel arch too, and if you can possibly avoid standing, do so.
2. Focus on a fixed or stable point
Travelling by boat, when the waves around you are tossing and turning, your brain may have a hard time figuring out what is ‘level’. Looking at and concentrating on the horizon – which is always still – can therefore help your brain to make sense of your position and stop you feeling sick. On the road, look at a fixed point in the distance, such as a tree or a tall building. For road vehicles, try offering to drive rather than being a passenger – often, you will be so busy concentrating on the road ahead that you won’t experience any motion sickness.
3. Prepare your stomach
This may take a little trial and error, as every motion sickness sufferer is different, but some people find that eating, or not eating before a journey helps to keep motion sickness at bay. Avoiding alcohol may also help – as well as drunkenness adding to your brain’s state of confusion, alcohol can irritate your stomach and make you more likely to vomit in motion.
If all else fails, there are over the counter remedies that you can take to prevent motion sickness, although as with any medication, make sure you obtain the advice of a medical professional or pharmacist.